Joshua: “Winning Perseverance”

Joshua • “Winning Perseverance”

Joshua 14:6-15

December 4 – 8, 2017

 
 
I quit. I’m done. This is too difficult and I’ve had enough? I’m too old for this? Have you ever said those words? Sure, most of you have at one time or another.

 

But, have you ever felt like saying those words in connection to following the Lord? The man who was senior pastor of the church where I served at Executive Pastor and Church Program Administrator was a difficult man to work for. I don’t know when I’ve ever worked with a more demanding and self-serving individual in my life. Certainly not in the church and only once like that in corporate America. It got to be a chore just to get out of bed and get to work on time each morning. The sound of his voice was like fingernails on a chalkboard for those of you old enough to remember what that was like. He led a double standard life and managed by threats and intimidation. It was awful. Many a morning I wanted to lean out the window and yell, “I QUIT!”

 

This week we are going to explore one of the most difficult challenges you and I face as followers of Jesus Christ. This is not a new challenge, but rather a challenge that has confronted those who have worshipped God and followed Jesus Christ for thousands of years. This is a challenge that has become and will become increasingly more difficult in the years ahead in America because of the shifts away from God our culture is taking. First, it was the removal of prayer from schools, then legalized abortion, states legalizing marijuana, and then in June of 2015 the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage. Add to that removal of any Christian symbols i.e. the Ten Commandments, Nativity Scenes, and even saying “Merry Christmas” aloud. With each one of these decisions, our culture has become increasingly anti-Christian and thus more hostile towards Christianity. The challenge for this week is the challenge to persevere. The title of this week’s study is “

Winning Perseverance

.” How can you develop a winning perseverance? Our character study this week is the man Caleb.

6Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.

Joshua 14:6-15.

 

In verses 6 – 7, Caleb made reference to something that the Lord said of him and of Joshua at Kadesh-barnea 40 years earlier.

 

Caleb was referring to the event described in Numbers 13 and 14 when the children of Israel made their initial approach to the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua were two of the original 12 spies that were sent on a reconnaissance mission to check out the land and its people. The spies returned with the majority reporting that they could not take the land because the people of the land were too big and powerful for them to defeat. However, Joshua and Caleb gave the minority report saying, “

Let’s go and take the land

.” Joshua and Caleb demonstrated a winning faith while the remainder of the Israel shrunk away in fear. In response to their faith, the Lord promised Caleb and Joshua that they would receive inheritance in the Promised Land while the rest of the generation would die wandering in the wilderness. Every last one of those who came out of Egypt over the age of 20 years died in the desert because 10 of these guys said, “I Quit.” Caleb demonstrated Winning Perseverance that never quit even during difficult circumstances.

 

If there is one phrase that you find over and over in this passage to describe Caleb it is that he “

wholly followed the Lord

.” In fact, the Lord used this phrase to describe his character in Numbers 14:24 and Deuteronomy 1:36. Listen to those verses…

 

24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it

. Numbers 14:24

 

35 ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, 36 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’

Deuteronomy 1:35–36

 

Every time you encounter Caleb he is described as a man who “

wholly followed the Lord

.”

 

The particular word for “wholly” meant “to be full” which meant that it was said of Caleb that he followed the Lord fully and completely.[i] From beginning to the end of his life Caleb said in so many words…”I am in this for the duration.” A singing group I’ve told you about before is Trout Fishing in America. It’s a 6’9” guitar player and a 5’9” bass player. Their song, “I’ll Still Be Loving You, No Matter What Goes Righthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmh0kkwgxEk

is what comes to my mind when I think of Caleb. It’s really about two people in love, but it’s an easy stretch to make this about Caleb’s determination to follow God no matter what.

 

Caleb demonstrated a winning perseverance all the way to the end of his life…he stayed by the stuff

.

Perseverance never quits. Perseverance never says, “I’ve had enough” and walks away. Perseverance never says, “I’m too old for this, so I’m done.” At the heart of perseverance is finishing strong what you started even though there are obstacles or difficulties to overcome along the way.

 

In verse 10, did I mention that Caleb was 85 years old? And then in verse 12 he made an interesting request of Joshua,

“So now give me the hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out, just as the Lord said

.”

 

WOW! You kidding me? Seriously! When most people are ready to take up the rocking chair, Caleb says, “

Hey Joshua! You know the most difficult portion of the land where the giants live with all their fortified cities; give me that land. I like a challenge

!” He did not let age or infirmity or health or eyesight or arthritis or lumbago or failing hearing or anything else deter him from his goal. The simply was no quit in him.

 

MONDAY: How did Joshua do in this new challenge?

13 According to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the people of Judah, Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). 14 And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the descendants of Anak. 15 And he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir. Now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16 And Caleb said, “Whoever strikes Kiriath-sepher and captures it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife.” 17 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. 18 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she got off her donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19 She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Joshua 15:13-19

 

Remember last week how the tribes of Manasseh in Joshua 17 didn’t drive out the Canaanites and how much trouble that kept on giving them in the future? Not so with Caleb and the land given to him. There are some fairly risqué essays on the web about why it’s better to draft guys over 50 than 18 year olds. There might be something to that J At 85 years of age, Caleb kicked the daylights out of all the sons of Anak (the giants the spies were afraid of 40 years before). He drove them out even though they persisted. You see back to Joshua 11:21-22 Joshua and Israel drove out the Anakim, the giants, but some survived and lived in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Evidently, the three sons mentioned here returned and were confronted by Caleb. Even though they persisted in the land, Caleb did not give up! Even though they persisted Caleb did not give them an inch in the land. Caleb demonstrated Winning Perseverance. You can face the giants in your land with the same ferocity Caleb demonstrated. Here’s some How Tos.

Living the Word Applications: You Can Develop Winning Perseverance…So, Get Busy!

 

TUESDAY: Have The Mindset Of A Finisher.

 
Caleb had the mindset of a finisher. As followers of Jesus Christ today you need the mindset of a finisher. You must know that unless the Lord sends another Great Awakening to America, (The Great Awakening a period of

religious awakening and reform. It was a series of religious revivals that swept over the American colonies that were led by evangelical Protestant ministers in the middle of the 18th century. The Great Awakening was sparked by the tour of an English evangelical minister, George Whitefield) the spiritual condition of our country will continue to deteriorate and grow increasingly hostile towards the Christian faith. In Matthew 24, Jesus taught about the final days upon earth and the persecution in those days for His people. In verse 13, Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Following Jesus Christ is more than merely walking down an aisle in an evangelical service and being baptized, it is more than saying some prayer of “Jesus come into my heart.” Following Jesus Christ is about persevering to the end for then you will be saved. Following Jesus Christ is not about quitting or saying “I’ve had enough

” and walking away. Following Jesus Christ is about having the mindset of a finisher who won’t quit or walk away, but perseveres to the end because then you will be saved.

 

You may never be faced with having to sacrifice your principles or risk losing your business as some in the wedding business have, you may never have to stop displaying your Bible on your desk at work, our town may never have to stop Meeting at the Pole for prayer, or having the prayer walk at the beginning of the school year or doing Beach Club Bible…but we might. Where and how will you make a stand. Will you cave in and run away as the Israelites in the wilderness did, or will you be the flinty gritty incarnation of Caleb who simply said, “Bring on the best you got!”

 

The way you have the mindset of a finisher is to keep looking to your reward. Caleb had seen the land and made up his mind to return and claim it. All through the wilderness wandering he kept looking ahead to his reward. Keep looking ahead. Paul said it this way

2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:2,4

 

WEDNESDAY: Maintain A Passionate Energy For The Lord v. 7-11; 13.

 

Go back to look at verse 11 in today’s passage. Caleb mentioned his continued strength to do what the Lord wanted Him to do. What was his secret? In verses 7-9, Caleb thought back to the promise of the Lord to bring him back to the Promised Land even though others didn’t believe. Caleb maintained a passionate energy for the Lord by continually remembering the Promises of God. Read through this section again today and notice the number of times that Caleb clings to the promises of God. Question for you today…do you maintain a passionate energy for the Lord by continually remembering, studying, and growing in the Promises of the Lord…God’s Word? Or are you more cavalier about the whole thing? But there’s something else as well…

 

In verse 13, our passage mentions that Caleb wanted and received the place called Hebron. Hebron, the word means association or fellowship. This was also the place where Abraham in Genesis 13:18 established an altar to worship the Lord. Even at 85, Caleb was as passionate about his fellowship with the Lord as he was when he was a fire-brand young man. He was hungry for the Lord. As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you maintain your passionate energy for the Lord through fellowship with the Lord. You must work hard to maintain your times of daily prayer and fellowship with the Lord. No matter how old you are you must continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

My friend, John Bowling, a wizard software developer, has a real passion…he starts out each day asking God to lead him to at least one person to whom he can share the Gospel story. Any of you doing that?

 

If anybody followed you around this week, would they be able to collect enough evidence that you are passionate about Jesus Christ to amount to anything? Just asking…

 

THURSDAY: Provide For The Next Generation. Joshua 15:13-19.

In 15:13-19, Joshua gave land to his daughter and son-in-law

Othniel

. Othniel is one of the Judges mentioned in Judges 3:7-11. He was one of the Judges whom God used to draw people back to the Lord. Caleb provided for the next generation.

 

My Mom’s first cousin is a Former Pastor and was the Executive Director of

Lifeway Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jimmy Draper said, “We are not here for ourselves or even our generation. We are here for future generations.”[ii]

Think about that. The reason you are here today, at this place, with this ministry, is because of the Kingdom-minded decisions made by previous generations. We need to be a church filled with believers who minister the Gospel with the next generation in mind. What can you do to reach the next generation? What can you do to provide so the next generation is reached with the Gospel? As Celina continues to grows, there’s no way we, as a church, can reach this entire area. We need to partner with church planters. One of the challenges facing church planters that will come into this area is land. If you own land, would you consider donating some of it to the local Baptist association to be used for a church plant? Just saying…

 

Closer to home, what are you doing to teach the next generation about God and His work of redemption? Do you have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, in-laws and out-laws who do not know Jesus? Are you by word and example leading them to faith AND practice?

Barb and I have a couple of grandkids who have not made life commitments to Jesus and several more who are far from actively practicing their faith in a meaningful way. My heart hurts because these kids have come through our home and somehow we have not captured them with the heart of the Gospel as a guidepost for their lives. Please pray for us about ours…and

yours

.

 

FRIDAY: Claim New Territory v. 12.

Caleb wanted new territory even though it came with difficult challenges of the hill country and the Anakim. I can’t help but think that all the miracles he observed God doing in his life of following the Lord gave him the courage to take on a new challenge. Think about all the workings of God you’ve seen in your life. Remembering them shouldn’t cause complacency but should encourage you to keep claiming new territory for God. Many of you still pray the Prayer of Jabez daily to “

enlarge my territory

…” 1 Chronicles 7:10. Keep it up

 

Dois Rosser spent the first half of his life making a few million dollars in the automobile industry. However, when he entered into the last half of his life, he wondered why God had blessed him so much. He was nearing the comfort of retirement and thought surely there’s more. Then God placed on his heart International Cooperating Ministries. Dois poured all his resources into forming this ministry that builds churches in third world countries with the understanding that those churches will plant new churches. When most were getting ready for the rocking chair, Dois claimed new territory for God. You can read his story in “The God Who Hung on the Cross”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On8eD7Tl9aE

That’s winning perseverance. What new territory does God want you to claim?

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

Volume 5. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1998. 328. (In the footnotes.)

[ii] Draper, Jimmy. Don’t Quit Before You Finish.

Clovercroft Publishing, TN. 2015. 243.