Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper is a weekly tool that provides daily devotions that correspond to Pastor Kevin’s sermon each week.

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.




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 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




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.


Joshua: “Winning Purity”

Joshua • “Winning Purity”

Joshua 10:16-22; 34

November 27-December 1, 2017

I love dark chocolate! In fact, it was a joyous day when research began to be published showing the health benefits of dark chocolate.

The overall health benefits range from being filled with anti-oxidants to lower blood pressure and helping fight against cardiovascular disease. Of course, studies indicate that you must not over indulge but need to consume daily amounts in moderation.[i]



Even the prestigious

Mayo Clinic

touts the benefits of dark chocolate:

Can chocolate be good for my health? Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.


Healthy chocolate sounds like a dream come true, but chocolate hasn’t gained the status of health food quite yet. Still, chocolate’s reputation is on the rise, as a growing number of studies suggest that it can be a heart-healthy choice.


Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.


In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But more research is needed to confirm these results.





touts the health benefits of dark chocolate:

Top 7 Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

  • Antioxidant Benefits
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Diabetes Protection
  • Anti Cancer Benefits
  • Bone Health
  • Dental Health
  • Brain Health


I know, hardly any of you doesn’t like milk chocolate? However, when compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate nudges ahead in the overall benefits because of the purity of the chocolate. Milk chocolate has been diluted by the milk products in it and therefore its influence on your health is not as effective. The dictionary defines the adjective pure as not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material. The more pure the chocolate is, the better its influence on your health because it is not mixed with impurities or even other ingredients.


So, how does this delicious discussion about dark chocolate factor into our study of Joshua and Winning God’s Way? When it comes to a relationship with God, the standard of purity or holiness is God himself. He is perfectly pure in holiness and His desire for those that follow Him is the purity of holiness in our lives. The more pure your commitment is to God and His directions, the more benefit there is for you. The more you allow contaminants to dilute the purity of your commitment, the less will the value in your life. Remember this:

15 But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15-16


Even in the early days of God establishing His people in the Land He prepared for them, His desire was always for holy purity.

2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2


As God was leading Israel to conquer the Promised Land, His desire was for purity of the people and purity of the land. He wanted them to have a winning purity and that meant following His instructions to the letter. There was no room for compromise. The title of this sermon in this series called Winning God’s Way is “Winning Purity.” Let’s see how well they did and what the consequences of their choices were…and what lessons we can draw from their actions.


One of the greatest challenges to studying the book of Joshua is the graphic warfare that is described. Israel under the direction of the Lord begins conquering the land in the latter portions of the book and their instructions were to completely destroy the inhabitants of the land. Joshua began by killing the five Southern Kings

16 During the battle the five kings escaped and hid in a cave at Makkedah. 17 When Joshua heard that they had been found, 18 he issued this command: “Cover the opening of the cave with large rocks, and place guards at the entrance to keep the kings inside. 19 The rest of you continue chasing the enemy and cut them down from the rear. Don’t give them a chance to get back to their towns, for the Lord your God has given you victory over them.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelite army continued the slaughter and completely crushed the enemy. They totally wiped out the five armies except for a tiny remnant that managed to reach their fortified towns. 21 Then the Israelites returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah. After that, no one dared to speak even a word against Israel. 22 Then Joshua said, “Remove the rocks covering the opening of the cave, and bring the five kings to me.”

34 Then Joshua and the Israelite army went on to Eglon and attacked it. Joshua 10:16-22,34.


Come on now, when you read that didn’t it cross your mind to ask, “How can a holy and loving God have commanded such a thing?” Remember back several weeks ago that God had demonstrated 400 years of mercy towards the Canaanites giving them an opportunity to turn to Him but they continued to live in wickedness. The sinfulness of the Canaanites had set them up as the object of God’s judgment with Israel being God’s instrument of judgment. Parenthetically, as an aside, would God ever use some other people or nation to be His instrument of judgment on our nation and culture? I’m just asking.


So just how wickedly sinful were the Canaanites? Take time to read Leviticus chapter18 and you will see that the sinfulness of the Canaanites included incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality. Any of that sound familiar today? Israel was commanded to never make themselves unclean by practicing these things because,

I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 18:30


And again, in Deuteronomy 9:4-5, the Lord says their wickedness is the reason for driving them out of the land.

4 Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. 5 Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that He may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Deuteronomy 9:4-5


The Lord used Israel to drive out the Canaanites because of their sinfulness, NOT because of Israel’s righteousness. Israel was not to pridefully drive them out thinking it was their own doing, but rather with great humility to do exactly what God demanded, because Israel was not righteous either. This reminds me of a powerful truth concerning sin.


MONDAY: From God’s Viewpoint All People Are Sinful And Deserving Of Judgment.

Israel was no better than the Canaanites, but at this point the Canaanites were receiving the judgment all people deserve. They had rejected God’s call on their lives for more than 400 years and now the tab was due.

23 For all have sinned have fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23


23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

At this point, Israel was a new nation and only by the grace of God were they spared judgment that could easily have been much more disastrous than it was through their 40 year hiatus in the wilderness. A somber and sobering comparison is easy to make today. You and I have been so blessed in our culture and nation, and it’s painfully plain that so far the United States and Western Culture have been spared God’s judgment. The judgment of the Canaanites was to serve as a strong warning to Israel about the judgment they would experience if they followed the same sinful practices. This Demotivator poster from www.despair.com speaks volumes for our day


Therefore, the cleansing of the land was about purifying the land of the sinful influences of the Canaanites so that God’s people would not be led into the same sinfulness. Why? Because the nation of Israel was intended to be a light to other nations pointing them to the One true God. When the Lord made His covenant with the founding father of Israel, Abraham, it was so all nations would be blessed. The Lord said of Israel

6 I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations. Isaiah 42:6.


So let’s see how we might grade Israel’s success in purifying the land? They took a path they thought they could justify before God. Stick around to see how that worked out.

12 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13 Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. Joshua 17:12-13.


Not too well. The people of Manasseh and Israel did not totally drive them out but let them live in the land as slaves. Big mistake! The result of not purifying the land was a thorn in Israel’s side for years to come. In the years that followed, Israel was influenced by the sinful practices of the Canaanites. God does not and did not set a double standard when it came to sin. The Lord was patient and merciful with Israel, but ultimately He judged Israel for their sinfulness and send them into captivity at the hands of the Assyrians in 722BC and Babylonians in 586BC.


God’s patience only lasts so long and the bill come due. With Israel, and by extension, the USA failing to demonstrate the Winning Purity God desired, He finally said ENOUGH!


With all the warnings signs out there about the consequences of NOT demonstrating a Winning Purity, it’s time for you to figure out what it takes to demonstrate a winning purity. The answer to that is vitally important as you strive to follow Christ because you have been called to fulfill the purpose of God in pointing others to Christ now through the light/influence of our lives.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9


For you to fulfill that purpose, you must purify your life of sinful influences. For you to win God’s way you must demonstrate a winning purity by removing sinful influences from your life. What is the take away from the book of Joshua about developing a winning purity in your life so that you can be the pure person God wants you to be? Let’s think about some applications.


Living the Word Applications: Develop Winning Purity


TUESDAY: Understand Sin’s Persistence…Don’t Give Up 17:12-13.

Joshua 17:12-13 gives you a hint, “the Canaanites persisted in the land…” It was difficult dealing with the Canaanites and their sinfulness because they were entrenched in the land. They persisted with such tenacity that the Israelites eventually gave up trying to remove them and tolerated them staying. Even though Israel grew strong, they still gave up and allowed the pagans to stay. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you know that every day is a battle because of sin’s persistence. Keep fighting. Keep battling. Don’t give up! The battle over persistent sin will never go away. Never. You must continue the fight every day. The powers of evil never take a day off.

WEDNESDAY: Understand Sin’s Persistence…Don’t Give It A Place 17:12-13.

If you give sin a place in your life, it will lead to trouble. Once the camel of sin gets its nose under your tent flap, it will soon occupy house. By giving up, they gave the sinfulness, the idolatry of the Canaanites a place in the land, but more importantly a place of influence in their lives. As followers of Christ, we are not to give sin a place in our lives. What are the sins that keep on knocking at your door?

  • Do you struggle with lust?
  • Do you struggle with addictive behaviors?
  • Do you struggle with pornography?
  • Do you struggle with an affair?
  • Do you struggle with an eating disorder?
  • Do you struggle with greed?
  • Do you struggle with holding a grudge?


26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26-27


Opportunity” means place or room. In this verse, Paul talked about resolving sinful anger so that unforgiveness doesn’t have a place in your life. You can take this same application to other areas of sin as well. You must ferret it out. If you give it a place, then it will be like termites…its influence will slowly eat away at your life. When sin shows up…as it always will…ask God to drive it out of your mind and give you the courage to walk away from it, in the name of Jesus. Then, walk away.


THURSDAY: Recognize The Sinful Influences In Your Life 17:12-13.

The Canaanites as a people had the ability to be a sinful influence that would hinder Israel’s living for and worshiping the one true God. Israel needed to recognize their sinful influence and remove it. The old Southern-ism that if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get fleas applies here. What are the sinful influences in your life? What things cause you to struggle with particular sins?

  • Is it the circle of friends you have?
  • Is it music you listen to?
  • Is it TV shows or movies that you watch?
  • Is it the places you go?
  • Is it the things you read?


FRIDAY: Deal With Sinful Influences Aggressively

In the same way that Joshua and the people had to battle the people of the land of Canaan you must battle sin in your life. War is aggressive and you are in a war to the death with sinful influences.

11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11


Paul mentions some of these fleshly passions:

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Galatians 5:19-21


I can hear it now. You read this and stopped short of the last four words. You said, I’m not sexually immoral, impure, plagued with sensuality. I am not an idolater or a sorcerer. I don’t have enmity or strife or jealousy toward anyone. I am not prone to fits of anger or rivalries or dissensions or divisions. I don’t envy anyone and I certainly don’t get drunk or participate in orgies…I must be doing pretty well.


However, you cannot get past and things like these. If you are honest, you are guilty of a casual attitude toward sinful impurity in your life. The devil launches all-out war on your life every day and he has one goal in mind…destruction of your witness. If he can’t steal your soul, he will steal your life and influence. You must make a fearless moral inventory of your life and then deal with sin aggressively. Jesus instructed His first followers to deal with sin aggressively.

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. In Matthew 5:30


The particular word for “sin” here meant to make stumble.[ii] This word was also used for bait used to spring a trap.[iii] The point is that anything that continually traps you into sin or causes you to sin should be dealt with aggressively. What do you need to do? Change our attitude towards sin. You can no longer deal with it casually, it must be pursued aggressively. Get an accountability partner to help you.

  • Where are you too casual in your attitude towards sin?
  • Where do you need to be more aggressive in dealing with sin’s influence?
  • Do you need to change your playmates and playgrounds?
  • Do you need to change the music you listen to?
  • Do you need to stop watching certain TV shows or movies you watch?


Pastor Alan Redpath wrote these words…

There will be no victory in the name of Christ until you declare total war against everything in your life that is sinful…there will be no personal experience of the power of Jesus Christ in victory until you declare war on sin. I ask you in the name of heaven, are you attacking on all fronts? Have you identified yourselves by declaring war on pride, on self, on tongue, and on criticism, by determining to attack and conquer them in the name of Jesus? You have a constant attitude to maintain and a victory to claim.[iv]




GramCord Bible Program. Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.

[iii] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1-7.

Moody Publishers 1985, 305.

[iv] Redpath, Alan. Victorious Christian Living: Studies in the Book of Joshua.

Fleming H.Revell, 1955, 1993. 155.


Joshua: “Winning Prayer”

Joshua • “Winning Prayer”

Joshua 10

November 20-25, 2017

The largest recorded hailstone in the U.S. was nearly as big as a volleyball and fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian,

South Dakota

. It was 8 inches in diameter and weighed almost 2 pounds. It fell to earth at the rate of 32 feet/second/second reduced somewhat by friction and collision with other hailstones. However, by some estimates, it is possible for a hailstone to reach terminal velocity of up to 171MPH.


When our boys were eight and five, they shared a bedroom on the south side of our two-story house. One evening we got one of those once-in-a-lifetime hailstorms. It ruined the roof, siding, fences, trees, cars and completely knocked out all the glass windows in their room. Scared them as much as it did me. Hail is serious business.


Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious

. These are words that describe something happening that is not normal; something that is beyond the realm of earthly means.


On Friday, November 10, Maple Grove High School in Minnesota found themselves down 19 points with one minute to play. A couple of long touchdown passes with some onside kicks and the miracle happened…they ran in the final touchdown.[i]



Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. So how do these words compare to your prayer life? Do they at all?

What is the most impossible thing that you’ve asked God for in prayer?



Have you ever come before God asking for something audacious?


Preacher Hallock ( E. F. Hallock) who was pastor of First Baptist Church, Norman, OK for many years had a son, Edgar. Pastor Hallock wrote a book that is now out of print called

Always in Prayer

in which he tells stories about praying exciting and audacious prayers. One Christmas, Edgar began praying for a black and white puppy. His Dad kept telling him that there wasn’t going to be a dog, period. It didn’t deter Edgar. He just kept on praying for the black and white puppy.


On Christmas Eve the doorbell to the Hallock house rang and a neighbor had a little black and white puppy in arms. He said,

“Preacher, we have been unexpectedly transferred and have to leave in the morning. We cannot take our puppy with us and I know you are such good people, please give our baby a new home?”

Edgar got his puppy.


Years later when Edgar was a missionary in South America, he needed printing equipment worth more than $1,000,000 in today’s money for their Bible curriculum printing ministry. You won’t be surprised that God answered that prayer also. He got the presses.

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious



If you can find a copy of that little book, I encourage you to get it today.


Back to our story, I asked you the questions I asked you the questions about being

Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. because this week in Joshua you will discover that one of the keys to conquering the Promised Land was an outlandish, impossible, extraordinary, and audacious prayer by Joshua. Let’s discover what praying Winning Prayers

looked like in the life and times of Joshua.


Last week we learned that the people of Gibeon deceived Israel into making a covenant with them. Chapter 10 describes Gibeon as a great city with mighty warriors, so if fighting Israel was not difficult enough, five kings now had decided to attach Gibeon. In the first few verses of Joshua 10 a coalition of these kings became fearful because they heard of Israel’s peace treaty with Gibeon.


MONDAY: The Next Opportunity For Israel To Win God’s Way.

The coalition of Kings decided to isolate and attack Gibeon but news traveled fast in the land of Canaan and the people of Gibeon called on Joshua to come to their aid. It’s at this point that we pick up the story Joshua 10…

7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Joshua 10:7-11


Entering battle was never something that took place without a measure of fearfulness, so the Lord drew near to Joshua with soothing words of reassurance,

“Do not fear them…” Who was ‘them’? The coalition of Kings and their armies. Yes, there were a bunch of them and greatly fortified for battle, nevertheless, don’t be afraid “for I have given them into your hand. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”

These words should have sounded familiar to Joshua and they should sound familiar to you:

5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:5,


The Lord comforted Joshua NOT with a new promise but with an old promise applied to a new challenge. As a child of God, isn’t it so easy to become wrapped around the axle by searching for some new truth or revelation to help you in times of difficulty when what you really need is to find peace in the old promises and to trust them. When God makes a promise, it doesn’t change when circumstances change. Joshua was no different from you. You need to be reminded of the promises of God to help in your struggles.


, I bet you will notice how the Lord will take an old promise and apply it appropriately to your specific situations. Here’s a real life illustration from Pastor Kevin and Marcy.

In Marcy’s battle with cancer, which began in 2010, it was not a new truth that God used to encourage us, but rather an old promise that we had read many times before, but it’s application took on new meaning for us in the new trial we are facing. As we sat in the patient room waiting for her lumpectomy surgery to take place, we were reading our Bibles when Marcy read these words:


1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

. Isaiah 43:1-3


We did not need a new truth, but an old time honored promise applied to the new trials and we still cling fiercely to that promise today. Joshua did NOT need a new promise but needed to be reassured by an old promise.


Encouraged by the reassurance of the promise of the Lord, Joshua and the army marched all night and launched a surprise attack on the coalition. Did you notice how the Lord caused the armies to panic and flee from Israel, but the Lord wanted them to know He was in charge, so He also stirred up a monster hailstorm that rained down destruction on the armies, but hitting ONLY the enemy armies. Think about the sovereignty of the Lord in that. The Lord sovereignly stored up hail for such events.

22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, 23which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?

Job 38:22-23


TUESDAY: Time Out for Prayer.

As the battle raged on and the hailstones continued to fall, Joshua did something very interesting. In fact, what he did might be the last thing anyone of you might think to do while war is raging around you.

12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. 15 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Joshua 10:12-15


What does he do? While swords are being wielded and spears being thrown and hailstones falling, Joshua stops and prays to the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still so that the battle can be finished that day. Joshua PRAYS! However, he doesn’t simply pray, he prays Outlandishly! Impossibly! Extraordinarily! Audaciously! He prays for the Lord to do something only the Lord can do…make the sun and moon stand still.


Now let’s be clear this miracle has not been without its debate as to how it could happen.


There have been several hypotheses from human reason for this miracle other than the sun and moon actually stopping which would seem to indicate that the earth stopped its rotation. Some have said that there was a refraction of light that allowed for more sunlight for a longer time. Some have said there was a solar eclipse that took place. Others have said it was simply a special sign that the sun and moon stood opposite one another in the sky and others that the passage is figurative.[ii]


However, I have no problem believing that they simply stood still because God would not be God if He could not stop them and still keep everything running in the universe at the same time. What we do know is that what took place was so powerful that it was recorded in another extra-biblical writing called the Book of Jasher. You can get caught up in debating such issues and miss the entire point to the passage. Don’t miss the real marvel of marvels in this passage…the Lord heard and responded to the prayers of a man…Joshua.

The real marvel is that the Sovereign Creator of the universe heardand answered the prayers of His people.


If you’d like to read more on this topic, see:




For you to win God’s way you must utilize the greatest weapon…


, because that is THE Important Thing in this story. I call prayer a weapon because that’s how the Bible describes it since this is a spiritual battle in the Promised Land where you live, work and play.


In Ephesians 6, Paul described the spiritual armor you need for the daily battle.

6 Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”

Ephesians 6:18


4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ

. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5



You are in this spiritual battle in your Promised Land. There are all kinds of strongholds and arguments against the knowledge of God and His Christ around you. The only way those strongholds come down is through the weapon of prayer. Did you notice in our story what happens when you pray… the Lord fights your battles. What you need is instructions on how to pray winning prayers! Let’s explore some How Tos!


Living the Word Applications: To Develop A Winning Prayer Strategy You Will Need To…



WEDNESDAY: Pause and pray v. 12.

Right in the midst of the battle, Joshua dropped to his knees and spoke to the Lord. Let me be very clear. Prayer is not some magic potion or incantation. It is simply talking to the Lord. How often do you have a tendency to make prayer so rigid and formal and full of “churchy” words that you feel intimidated to pray because you don’t want to mess up.


Prayer is simply talking to the Lord and telling Him your need in the moment.



Henry Blackaby offers some principles for prayer:


Prayer always starts with God taking the initiative to invite you into where He is already at work. He calls you into relationship and invites you to listen to His voice. When He speaks, it always creates a crisis of some kind…choices to make that require you to adjust. God told Joshua to stop being afraid and He would fight the battle for him. When Joshua obeyed, the stored up hailstorms were unleashed.


Just remember to include these elements in your conversation with God…

Gratitude Identify the things for which you are thankful and express your thanks. Supplications for others in your world who need God’s presence and blessings. Call them by name. Then make your Outlandish. Impossible. Extraordinary. Audacious. Requests known to God. Then finally, learn to Listen

for His voice. More on that tomorrow.


The only way to mess up is NOT to pray. You never know where you will be when the battle comes with a trial or a temptation, so wherever you are in your in work or play and the battle starts taking place…pause and pray.



THURSDAY: Maintain Open Lines Of Communication…Learn to Listen v. 8.

In verse 8, Joshua heard the Lord say, “

Do not fear

…” We don’t know if he was in prayer in the tabernacle or his tent or simply walking among the troops. But what is certain is that he maintained an open line of communication with the Lord so he could HEAR the Lord’s voice. I think this is important because so much of your prayer time, like mine, is spent with us talking. Take time to listen for the Lord’s voice. Maybe it will come through His Word or maybe it will come through the Spirit’s prompting during the day. When you finish your times of prayer, don’t close off the lines of communication. Ask God to continue to use the world around you to show you His hand on your life.


Let me say it again, during your day, maintain open lines of communication with the Lord and listen for His voice.



FRIDAY: Pray Outlandishly, Impossibly, Extraordinarily, And Audaciously v. 12-14.

You are not to be people of fear, but of outlandish prayers linked to the promises of God. The promise of God reaffirmed to Joshua emboldened him to prayer and then to action. Joshua’s audacious prayer led him to be emboldened by the Promise of God. The old promises of God should reassure you and embolden you to advance God’s Kingdom in your life and in your community NOT retreat in fear. Five kings and armies, right? Remember 2 Corinthians 11:4?

“The weapons of our warfare…” Weapons

… plural, right? So, it’s not only prayer but prayer and the Word of God and a listening ear. The audacious miracle was performed because it was in the will of God to establish His people in the land.
  • What are you praying for right now?
  • Will you pray outlandishly?
  • Will you pray audaciously?

You can pray for the impossible because as Paul said the Lord is “able to far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” I agree with Pastor Larry “Steven” Furtick Jr.,the Lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, that maybe the reason we don’t see God doing more to advance His cause through the church is that we don’t pray audacious prayers like Joshua. Pray!


Here’s your challenge for this week:

What audacious prayers can you pray this week?

  • For your family – do you have a family member on a collision course with disaster and you don’t know what to do? Pray for a miracle
  • For your job – are you doing what you want to be doing? Do you need a new career path? Pray for wisdom to keep on looking for something that makes your heart sing.
  • For our nation – are you concerned about the great divide in our land that threatens our republic? Are you really praying for another Great Awakening? For healing among the factions that divide us? For peace to come to Asia and the Middle East? For Jesus to come back?


When you look at chapter 10, Joshua learned a lesson from chapter 9 where

prayerlessness led him to be deceived by the Gibeonites. Here he prayed and prayed Outlandishly! Impossibly! Extraordinarily! Audaciously!

. Here prayerfulness led to victory.


Will you pray outlandishly and all that other stuff…this week? Will you?



[ii] Howard, David. Jr. The New American Commentary: Joshua.

Broadman and Holman, 1998. Volume 5. 241-245.


Joshua: “Winning… NOT”

Joshua • “Winning…NOT”

Joshua 7

October 30-November 3, 2017

The University of Oklahoma won 47 straight games from 1953-1957until the streak was ended by Notre Dame. Joe DiMaggio had a 56 consecutive game hitting streak May 15-July 17, 1941that was ended by the Cleveland Indians.


An article in SportsDay HS by staff writer Avi Zaleon in 2015 sums up high school football in our town.


It has been seven years since Celina’s last state title. In most communities, a championship every seven years -or even every 17 years- is considered a blessing. In Celina, seven years is a drought.

“Honestly, they expect you to win every game you play,” said Celina assistant coach Josh Sharrock, who played while Celina was in the midst of its 68-game winning streak from 1998-2002.

At some programs, it’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs. At others, maybe advancing three rounds in the postseason gets you a pat on the back. But Celina is in a very small, elite group of Texas high school football programs where anything less than a state title makes the entire season a shoulder shrug.


“They set a very high expectation for their kids because of the success we’ve had,” Celina head coach Bill Elliot said. “They expect the kids and the coaches to do well every year. That puts a little pressure on you, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”


Winning streaks are amazing to watch in any sport. Winning streaks are something that we here in Celina are accustomed to in football. Over a 4-year period, we won four state championships and had a 68 games in a row winning streak, until a play-off loss to Dangerfield. Watching a team on a winning streak and being a part of a winning streak is fun, but they eventually come to an end and the loss hurts because no one likes losing…and then there are stories about men like these. Notorious failures fallen from grace and ministry:

C.A. Roberts, Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Billy Weber, Todd B., Bruce S., King David, Adam and Eve and in our story today, Achan. All had winning streaks broken by willful sin. All of them believed they could hide from God, or else that the rules somehow did not apply to them. Their reputations and ministries were kicked to the curb and left on the ash heap of history. As the scripture says,

23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Numbers 32:23.


Not a single one of these guys thought God would ever call them to account…and yet

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, “God will never call us to account.” 14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them.

Psalm 10:13-14


These men were giants in Christian ministry, but succumbed to temptations of the flesh.


MONDAY: Winning Streak Comes To An End

For the last several weeks, we’ve been in this study of Joshua entitled,

Winning God’s Way and the people of Israel have been on a winning streak. As they entered the Promised Land, they were assured of winning and they experienced one victory after another. However, as with all winning streaks they come to an end and the loss hurts. In the passage we will study this week, Israel’s winning streak came to an end. The title of the message is Winning NOT! This passage is a powerful reminder Christian that for us to win God’s way we must avoid sinful compromise.

1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Joshua 7:1


The word “

But” should grab your attention because it connects us with the previous victory over Jericho in Chapter 6. This is like saying this year’s Clemson University football team had won 11 straight football games BUT then they played Syracuse. Joshua and the people were celebrating another win, “But the people Israel broke faith with regard to devoted things…” The phrase, “broke faith”, vividly describes the sin. This word describes acting unfaithfully or betraying the trust in a relationship like that of adultery.[i] In this case it was a broken trust in the relationship between God and Israel. How often have you tried to trivialize sin in your life? From God’s perspective sin is the breaking of a trust…spiritual adultery.


In this case, it was “

in regard to the devoted things…” Remember the Lord told Israel that the entire city of Jericho was to be devoted to Him

and all its financial plunder was to be put into the Lord’s treasury.


However, Achan, took some of the possessions of the city. The last sentence of verse 1 has an ominous tone to it when it says, “

And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

” This is the part in the movie when the music turns dark and oppressive. You know something bad is about to happen. Back to Joshua 7.

2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5 and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. 6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord God, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! 8 O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! 9 For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?” 10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.”

Joshua 7:2-13


Israel, by the grace of God, was on a winning streak BUT then they battled Ai. Ai was a little-bitty town compared to Jericho that did not have the fortifications of Jericho, but they sent Israel running for their lives. Don’t you wonder,

Why did the Lord punish the entire nation of Israel for the sinful act of Achan? Remember when we started this study, we discovered that the unity of Israel was a key theme running throughout the Book of Joshua. You can see that theme vividly on display here. The Lord disciplined the entire nation of Israel in the same way that an entire team is penalized for one player breaking the rules. Alan Redpath

(a well-known British evangelist, pastor and author) explains it the best…

“You see the children of Israel were a nation – they were brought to redemption ground as one man, the weakest of them and the strongest of them. They were a complete entity; God was dealing with them as a corporate body through whom His purposes for men were to be fulfilled. Here at Ai, therefore, the verdict of heaven on the sin of one member of the community was, “Israel hath sinned.”[ii]



Joshua was devastated by the defeat at Ai so he fell on his face in brokenness before the Lord pleading with the Lord to tell him what happened. This is the first time in this chapter, that you find Joshua seeking the Lord in prayer. Up to this point, he was completely unaware that there was a sin problem in the camp. Coming off the victory at Jericho, they go rambling into the next battle without consulting the Lord. I don’t have a reference for this, but if Joshua had sought the Lord in prayer prior to the battle of Ai, then IMHO, the Lord would have told him that there was sin in the nation because it was through

this prayer time that the Lord revealed the sin to Joshua. The Lord told him that some of the devoted things had been stolen and that was the reason for their defeat. You don’t win when you sin

. Make a note of that. Sinful compromise in your life will always end in defeat. Did I say ALWAYS? No exceptions.


TUESDAY: Identifying the Sin

In verses 14-19, the Lord took Joshua through a process of bringing the various tribes and clans of the nation before him to identify the source of the sin. Through this process, Joshua confronted Achan about his sin. Let’s listen to Achan…

20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and I took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the Lord.

Joshua 7:20–23


After getting caught, Achan acknowledged his sin. Notice the process of sin’s manifestation in Achan: “

I saw it”; “I wanted it”; and “I took it

.” This is the same thing that occurred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God.

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6


Achan fell into the same sinful trap set by the devil in the Garden of Eden and just as in the Garden of Eden, the result was death. In the verses that follow, Joshua and the leaders brought Achan, his entire family, and all his possessions before the nation where they are stoned (rocked to sleep permanently) and everything they owned was burned. In verse 26, they did something interesting.

26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

” Joshua 7:26


They built a stone altar and name the place the Valley of Achor. Achor means


They built an altar and called the place the Valley of Trouble so that they would always remember that sinful compromise brings trouble.



WEDNESDAY: You Won’t Win When You Sin Because Sin Always Brings Trouble Into Your Life.

Look at the punishment handed down in the case of not only on Achan, but also his family and aren’t you tempted to holler, “FOUL! NOT FAIR!” But the Lord was teaching the Israelites and, by extension, you today the same lesson He’s been trying to teach mankind since the Garden of Eden. Sinful compromise brings trouble into your life, but not only your life, but into the lives of other people as well.


Sinful Compromise Has Far Reaching Consequences.


Achan’s sin not only affected him, but his family and the entire nation as they suffered defeat at the hands of little-bitty insignificant Ai. According to verse 5, 36 men died in the battle because of Achan’s sinful compromise. What about those men who died because of another man’s sin? What about the families of those men who died because of Achan’s sin?


God brings judgment on sin with extreme measures because the far-reaching consequences of sin are extreme. All you need to do is look at the cross of Jesus Christ to see the extreme consequences of sin. For it was there that the innocent blood of Jesus Christ was poured out on Golgotha, under the judgment of God, for your sin so that you might be made right with God. There was no other way.


For YOU To Win God’s Way You Must Avoid Sinful Compromise, Because

When You Sin You Won’t Win.


Nobody wins. So how can you practically avoid sinful compromise? Here are some practical applications.


Living the Word Applications: Avoid sinful compromise by…


THURSDAY: Remind Yourself Of The Far Reaching Consequences Of Sinful Compromise v. 5; 24-25.

In this chapter you get a vivid object lesson of the consequences of sinful compromise. Very rarely do your sinful actions affect only you. How often do other people suffer because of your sinful behavior? How often is your family hurt because of your sinful behavior? It’s not worth it. A monkey may be able to whip a skunk, but it’s just not worth it…never was, is or will be.


One of the most devastating far-reaching consequences in these verses is found in verse 12,

Therefore, the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. I will be with you no more



You are not as strong before the enemy, Satan, when sinful compromise is alive and well in your life because you quench the presence of God in your life. You are only as strong in advancing God’s Kingdom in your Promised Land as the purity of your life. Israel suffered because of the impurity of one man, Achan. You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You are only as strong in accomplishing God’s mission in this world as the purity of your life. Your individual sinfulness affects the effectiveness that our church has in pushing back the enemy around us. Do you feel weak and powerless as a Christian? Purify your life of sinful compromise. Avoid sinful compromise by keeping in mind the far-reaching consequences.


Are you willing to take a fearless inventory of your behavior to see where you have embraced sinful compromise…and once taken, will you make immediate corrections while you still can?


Be Wary That Underneath Sin’s Sparkle Lies Only Death v. 20-21.

In verses 20-21, the sparkle of the Cloak from Shinar, the silver, and the gold caught Achan’s attention. On the surface it sparkled but underneath it was death. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, a beautiful cloak and silver and gold. Oh, how sin sparkles on the surface, but underneath is death. Be wary of sin’s sparkle because it when you see it, you can start to covet, and before you know it you are consuming it. Sin’s sparkle invites death into your life.


The man who is drawn to lustful looks and then viewing pornography and then into an illicit affair usually fails to see that what sin advertises it NEVER delivers. How often have you known those who traded a lifetime of God’s grace for a few moments of stolen ‘pleasures’? As the prophet Nathan said to King David…”

You are that man

.” Sin never, NEVER delivers what it advertises.

FRIDAY: Having A Joshua In Your Life v. 19-20.

You need a


in your life for accountability. You need someone who will boldly confront you about sin in your life. You need a Joshua who will ask us the tough questions. Who’s your Joshua? If you don’t have one, find an accountability partner. Avoid sinful compromise by having a Joshua in your life. Your enemies won’t tell you whether or not your pants are unzipped or have spinach in your teeth. You need the kind of person who will without apology. I mean it.


Remembering Your Sin Will Be Discovered v. 16-21.


Achan like so many of you who thought his sin could be hidden, will realize that you can only hide your sin so long. You cannot hide from God…ever. Secret sins will be discovered. Let that sink in…secret sins will be discovered and when they are, you won’t win. So what do you need to do? Bring it out into the open and deal with it decisively.


Remember the story about the little boy who had been tasked with planting the bean patch on the farm? He was interrupted by his buddies with an invite to go down to the swimming hole. He told them he couldn’t go because he was planting beans. They persuaded and prevailed and he simply dug one hole at the end of the bean patch and buried all the beans in the same hole. Off they went to swim…but beans have a way of coming up. Judgment day did arrive.


Joshua and the people brought it out into the open and dealt with the sin and its consequences decisively. It won’t be easy, but it is the road to blessing, power, and healing…and as we will see next week it is the road to winning again.

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

Volume 5. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 188.

[ii] Redpath, Alan. Victorious Christian Living.

Fleming H. Revell, 1955, 1993. 118,119.


Joshua: “Winning Memory”

Joshua • “Winning Memory”

Joshua 4 & 5

October 16-20, 2017

Tom Rush sings one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It’s called the

Remember Song. Some of you will smile at this and others of us are living this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yN-6PbqAPM.

Take three minutes to start this week off right.


I think that my memory is a bit like a carousel with lots of slots around the outside in which information is stored. The older I get the slower the carousel seems to go. I still have all the information in there somewhere, but it just takes longer to retrieve it. Then there are all the diseases of the mind that will someday steal of our memories.


One of the most frustrating things all of us deal with or will ever is forgetfulness. When it comes to a faith walk with God, one of the greatest enemies to faith is forgetfulness. In fact, the forgetfulness of the nation of Israel was on the heart of God in the Book of Deuteronomy as the people were preparing to enter the Promised Land. There is ample evidence that we are following that same path today.

11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today

. Deuteronomy 8:11


Forgetting what the Lord had done for them would, as it always does, lead to disobedient living. The Lord knew that an enemy of their faith was forgetfulness so as they entered the Promised Land He wanted them to have a winning memory. The title of this week’s study is “Winning Memory

.” Get your Bibles out and mark Joshua chapters 4-5. Read these two chapters in their entirety and we will summarize most of it and touch on a few verses.


There were three ways the Israelites were supposed to remember what the Lord had done for them that would give them a winning memory.

  • They were to remember the crossing of the Jordan River.
  • They were to remember the covenant of Abraham.
  • They were to remember their deliverance from Egypt.


Their remembrance of these three events was to transform the way they lived in the Promised Land.


MONDAY: Remembering What The Lord Has Done For YOU Should Transform The Way You Live.

When you forget what the Lord has done for you, your affection for Him will always weaken…every time… and what follows always leads to disobedient living.
For you to win God’s way you must have a winning memory that transforms the way you live today.


Take a moment to look at each of these areas of remembrance.


  1. In Chapter 4, The Lord instructed the people to gather 12 stones from the midst of the Jordan River, that river of impossibility for them to cross on their own ability and to set them up as a memorial to remember what the Lord had done there.


6 That this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:6-7


Verses 23 – 24 further illuminates the purpose of this memorial

23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever. Joshua 4:23-24


The memorial stones provided a teachable moment for parents to tell their children of the Lord’s power in overcoming the obstacle of the Jordan River reminding them to fear the Lord.


The other purpose was evangelistic. The memorial was to be a witness to “ALL THE PEOPLES of the earth” to know the Lord and His power.


Remembering what the Lord has done in overcoming obstacles in your life should always lead you to deeper worship of the Lord that is a witness to others. That is living a transformational life.


  1. The next way they were to remember what the lord has done is through remembering the Lord’s covenant with Abraham.


In chapter 5, you will find that the Lord instructed Joshua to circumcise the sons of Israel. Now for us that might not seem like a big deal but you need to remember that circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the Covenant Relationship he had with God. Circumcision was the outward symbol of inward faith in the Lord.


In Genesis 15, the Lord told Abram that he would have descendants like the stars.

6 And he believed the Lord, and God counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6


In Genesis 17, circumcision was given to Abram as an outward sign of the inward faith covenant he had with the Lord. Faith in the Lord always comes before the outward sign of the faith, in this case, circumcision, which the previous generation did not grasp.

5 Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people who were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6 For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord; the Lord swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Genesis 17:5-6


The previous generation who faithlessly disobeyed God had the outward sign of being God’s people but did not know Him by faith because, “they did not obey the voice of the Lord…”


In the Old Testament, God was always interested in a circumcision of the heart by faith before the physical circumcision.

16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. Deuteronomy 10:16


The generation entering the Promised Land had never been circumcised because of the disobedience of their parents. However, each person and each generation had to make their own personal commitment of faith to obey the covenant. By remembering to become circumcised, this generation was separating themselves from the previous rebellious generation and making a personal commitment of faith to the Lord by entering the Promised Land.


  1. In Joshua 5:10-12 The third way of remembrance…celebrating the Passover. In Joshua 4:19, note that they crossed over on the 10th day of the first month. That is significant because it was on that day that the preparations for Passover were to begin by selecting an unblemished lamb.

10 While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. 11 And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12 And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Joshua 5:10-12


Passover was a celebration remembering the most important salvation event in the life of Israel, their deliverance from Egypt. Remembering the Passover in the Promised Land was significant because it remembered salvation from Egypt and God fulfilling His Promises. In remembering their deliverance at Passover, they were reminded that they were to live a new life of faith in the Promised Land because of God’s work of salvation in their lives.




1 Corinthians 5:7, you will read that Christ is our Passover


1 Corinthians 11:24, you are told to eat the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. Christian, remembering the Lord’s Supper should promote a winning memory in you that transforms the way you live.



TUESDAY: Celebrating The Lord’s Supper


23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again

. I Corinthians 11:23-26


Remember always that it is not where or when you celebrate the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection, but HOW and WHY. Do so with honor and reverence and with a contrite heart. If your heart is not prepared, do not partake. It’s not for everyone.


Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning memory by…


WEDNESDAY: Breaking Away From The Past Way Of Living 5:5-6.

The circumcision of the next generation signified breaking away from the disbelief and sinful disobedience and living life by faith in the Promised Land. One of the symbols of our faith that is equated with circumcision is baptism. Baptism does not put a person in a right relationship with God, but in the New Testament it always occurred when a person made a

conscious response of faith in Christ


6 1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Romans 6:1-4


God’s Word says that baptism signifies

breaking away from the old life of sin to living a new life of obedience in Christ

. Can you remember your day of baptism? On that day, you made a conscious decision to publicly profess faith in Christ, to break away from sinful living and to live a new life in Christ.


One of my favorite memories is baptizing our youngest son, Don Allen Ivey. He made his profession of faith at age ten and asked me to baptize him. The church he was in refused his request, so I asked my pastor, James Pleitz, at Park Cities Baptist Church if I might baptize Donnie there. I will never forget his response that Sunday afternoon, “

You bet, the baptistery is full and warm. Bring that boy on.” Warmed this old daddy’s heart I can tell you. As we stood in the baptistery together, I asked him, “Son, why did you come to be baptized?” His precious answer still rings in my memory, “Well, Dad, I just gave my heart to Jesus and He told me to come be baptized

.” Hard to beat that.


So examine your life again. Are there places where you are forgetting to break away from the old life and live out your new life in Christ? Perhaps today will be a good day to take a fearless inventory of how committed you are to your original profession of faith. You may even decide that you need a renewal of your faith.


Demonstrate a winning memory by breaking away from the past way of living.


THURSDAY: Appreciating The Ordinary 5:10-12.


10 While the Israelites were camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, they celebrated Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. 11 The very next day they began to eat unleavened bread and roasted grain harvested from the land. 12 No manna appeared on the day they first ate from the crops of the land, and it was never seen again. So from that time on the Israelites ate from the crops of Canaan.

Joshua 5:10-12


Once the Israelites celebrated the Passover in the Land, the miraculous daily provision of manna ceased. Now the Lord’s provision would come the ordinary cycles of life such as harvesting crops in the land. So how often do you look for the miracles of God in the spectacular events and forget that His miracles also are found in the ordinary events of life? Appreciate the ordinary way God meets your daily needs such as a steady income, a warm home, a full refrigerator. Appreciate the protection He gives you daily as you move about this Promised Land where He called you to live, work, and play. Don’t become so enthralled in looking for the miraculous that you forget the ordinary ways God works in your life.


Take a moment today and make a note of at least twenty ways God has blessed you in the ordinary. Spend 15 minutes expressing your profound gratitude for all God has done for you. I bet you won’t stop at twenty.


Demonstrate a winning memory by appreciating the ordinary.


FRIDAY: Taking Advantage Of Teachable Moments 4:6-7; 23-24.


Go back to the beginning of the week and review these verses.


The memorial stones were to provide teachable moments for parents with their children. Parents, whenever you remember the Lord’s Supper and observe baptism, take advantage of those teachable moments with your kids to talk about the Scriptural significance with them. The memorial stones were also intended to be a witness to other nations as well. Share what the Lord has done in your life in overcoming obstacles. They are opportunities for you to witness to the power of God.


Forgetting what the Lord has done for you will lead you to priorities that are upside down…disobedient living, and the lack of a vibrant witness to others in our Promised Land where we live, work, and play. Take the memorial stone with a cross on it that you received Sunday with you and leave it in a place where it will remind you to live out your faith. But also, as people ask you about it, share what God has done in your life. That’s how winning memories work.



Joshua: “Winning Walk”

Joshua • “Winning Walk”

Joshua 3:1-17

October 9-13, 2017


When Barb and I first moved to Celina in 2009, we had no idea we would be here except for a short time. A major storm can through Celina that year and tore down trees, blew shingles off houses and knocked down fences. As some of you know, our aunt and uncle owned two houses in Celina… our home and the one across the street…a third home for them. They offered us what is now “Our House” as a temporary place to stay during an unexpected relocation from Arizona back to Texas until we could determine what God had planned for us next. After viewing all the storm damage to both houses, Aunt Frances asked me if I’d take the time ‘since I didn’t have anything else to do’ to work with the insurance companies, adjusters, vendors, et.al. to get bids and to oversee the work of new roofs, new paint and construction of new fences. Our house was a dirty tan color with little character (photo on left). The makeover still makes us smile (photo on right).


I gladly agreed to manage the project and sometime during the 4-6 months it took to finish all that work, Barb and I looked at each other and said, “You know, we kinda like it here, why don’t we see if we can make a deal for this house with our aunt.” And we could and we did. We did not choose Celina…God chose it for us. It has been 8 years now and we are blessed indeed.


During the construction, a local resident stopped by the front of our house one afternoon and rolled down his window. “You new here, boy?” he said. I told him that anybody who called me “BOY” got my attention. At 69 years of age, I could not remember the last time anybody called me BOY.


He said, “Get in the truck, I’m going to show you the town.” As we drove he pointed out homes and gave colorful descriptions of the people who lived there. He took me to City Hall and to the Police Station and introduced me around.


On the way back to the house, he gave me his philosophy about living in Celina. His words of advice:

· When you talk to young people around town, talk about progress.

· When you talk to old people in town, talk about tradition.

· Then there are only three words you need to know to live in Celina…Football, FOOTBALL, and FOOTBALL!


This time of year we anticipate certain football matchups. The mess in the NFL has accelerated interest in both local high school and NCAA football. There is great build up to those games with all the sports media surrounding the games. Texas-OU is upon us. Celina’s Bobcats have played all the non-district games, and now five district games are ahead of us. The energy, the excitement, and the anticipation that builds up to each kick-off leads ultimately to an explosion of noise that rocks a stadium. The anticipation of the air horn at Bobcat Stadium is all about tradition. Is this the year we win State Championship #9?


After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and hearing about it, the children of Israel were anticipating finally entering the Promised Land. Anticipation must have been at a boiling point, but the children of Israel could not just go running into the Promised Land like a football team running into a stadium because there was one final obstacle they had to overcome before they could reach the Promised Land…they had to cross the Jordan River. In spite all the anticipation building up, they could not run into the Promised Land, they had to walk. Yes….walk. Because of the obstacle in front of them they had to walk, but that was what the Lord was teaching them … to walk. In this case they were not to run to win but rather walk to win. Why do you suppose that was true? That’s what we will discover this week. The title of this week’s study is “Winning Walk.”



MONDAY: God Did Not Want His People To Believe They Were Conquering The Promised Land In Their Own Strength.

1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the camp 3 and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. 4 Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length [about 1000 yards]. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passéd this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. 7 The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

The Ark of the Covenant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_of_the_Covenant, takes a primary role in crossing the Jordan River being mentioned 10 times according to my count. The Ark of the Covenant was always a reminder of God’s Presence with them.


Let’s run down a rabbit trail for just a minute. As you review the Wikipedia article above, note that there came a day when the second Temple was destroyed that the Ark disappeared, and contrary to Indiana Jones, it is not squirreled away in some archival storage in Washington DC. Many believe that it was taken to Ethiopia, a contention held by the Messianic Jews who frequently minister there.


https://aleteia.org/2016/05/22/is-the-ark-of-the-covenant-in-ethiopia/ The monks who live in the small church of Saint Mary of Zion — also known as the “Chapel of the Ark” — in the sacred Ethiopian city of Aksum are forbidden to go beyond the bars surrounding the chapel.


Tradition says they cannot abandon the task entrusted to them: to watch over the “Tabot,” as the Tables of the Law are known in Ethiopia, until the day they die. Abba Gebre Meskel, who is 56 years old, has been on watch for three decades.


Archaeology and Legend

According to the Book of Exodus, the Tables of the Law contain the ten commandments God gave Moses high atop Mount Sinai. Some would date the event to the year 1440 BC.


Apocryphal legends, part of common knowledge and tradition in northern Africa and some regions in the Middle East, attribute supernatural powers to the Tables. Around these legends, some others were woven, including the alleged Nazi obsession with occultism and relics that would give Indiana Jones one of his most famous missions.


But the truth is that, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, nobody knows for sure where the Ark of the Covenant ended up. After disappearing without a trace – and with no known register of its whereabouts – its whereabouts (assuming it survived the destruction of the Temple) is still one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries.


Nevertheless, almost 45 million Orthodox Christian Ethiopians are certain that the Ark of the Covenant was taken, almost 3000 years ago, to Aksum, in northern Ethiopia, and that it has been guarded ever since by these monks in the humble church of Saint Mary of Zion.


Menelik, Solomon’s Son

According to the Coptic tradition, the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon had a child: Menelik I, the founder of a dynasty of Solomonic Emperors that ruled Ethiopia. He would have been in charge of moving the precious chest, made out of gold and acacia wood.


In an interview with National Geographic, the temple’s Deacon, Zemikael Brhane, said “God Himself chose this land, and Aksum is our holiest city. Westerners always demand visible proof, but we Ethiopians do not need to see the Ark to know it is here: we just feel it, we know it.”


Who can get into the church?

No one aside from the guardian monks is allowed to enter the church. One of the few people even permitted to talk to these monks is the historian Ephrem Brhane, who has devoted himself to guiding pilgrims, faithful and tourists from all over the globe around Aksum. He claims that “Abba Gebre Meskel is 100% convinced it is the authentic Ark: it not only has the exact shape described in the Bible but, moreover, it shines with an enormous light.”


Can the Ark be seen?

For seven days a month, before the sun rises, the monks of Saint Mary of Zion take a copy of the Ark out in procession. Each and every one of the Orthodox churches in Ethiopia has a copy of the Ark. Routinely, almost a thousand faithful attend the processions every month. However, the old Chapel of Our Lady of Zion seems to have fulfilled its duty: several leaks in its roofs have forced the monks to start the construction of a new temple, right next to the actual one into which, in the utmost secret, the monks will take the Ark.


No one will know that the Ark has been moved once again, into this new temple, until the day after the deed is done.


Now back on track. Notice the obstacle in front of the Israelites…the Jordan River. Verse 15 includes an important note about the Jordan River, (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of the harvest…) While the Jordan River is not normally an impressively large river, at the time of year that the Israelites were approaching it, the river was at flood stage. Dale Ralph Davis whom we quoted last week says in his No Falling Words: Expositions on the Book of Joshua, if it was similar to today’s proportions it was from 90 to 100 feet wide with a flood plain from 200 yards to 1 mile wide. The river channel may vary in depth from 3 feet to 12 feet at different points. With the Jordan River draining from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south, there is an average drop in elevation of this river of about 9 feet per mile.[i] Therefore, it was not a quiet little river, but a raging torrent of water.


It was a river of impossibility for them to cross on their own ability.


Whatever obstacle you are facing both the size and the timing are determined by God.

If it were any other time of the year, then the children of Israel would have had no problem crossing the Jordan. But God brought them to that place at that time, with the river at flood stage, and made crossing on their own ability beyond them. When you encounter obstacles in life, you must know that the both the size and timing are determined by God. It will never be convenient for you but it will be providential for you.


Remember that:

· God does whatever He pleases,

· With whomever He chooses,

· Whenever He wishes


As with all obstacles that God permits into your lives, there was a purpose to the obstacles in the life of the nation of Israel. Verse 7 tells us one purpose was to clearly demonstrate to the nation that the Lord was with Joshua. But verse 10, points us to what I believe is the primary purpose of the obstacle of the Jordan River, “And Joshua said,

10Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.”


The purpose: they would know with all assurance that the living God was present with them AND that He would conquer all their enemies thus giving them the Promised Land.



TUESDAY: God’s Victory Over The Present Obstacle Was To Give Them Faithful Courage For Dealing With Future Obstacles.

The miracle of overcoming this obstacle was intended to encourage their faith in claiming the Promised Land. Whenever they encountered the obstacles of facing the people in battle, then they were to look back to the Jordan River and be encouraged in faith. Since the Lord overcame a raging river, He would overcome their enemies…and He will do the same for you.


Now let’s get back to the heart of the matter with this encounter with this obstacle. To overcome this obstacle, God gave them some very specific instructions to follow.

· He told them to consecrate themselves in v. 5. In other words they were to prepare themselves spiritually to overcome the obstacle of the Jordan River.

· Next, he told them to let the priests to walk towards the raging river and step into it and then He would split the waters.

· Finally, they were told to let the priests with the Ark of the Covenant go in before them.


Look back at verse 4,

“Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”


The Ark was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to go. The Ark of the Lord was to go before them so that they would KNOW the way to walk in overcoming the obstacle of the Jordan River but also other obstacles in their future.


Walking was both physical and spiritual here. Walking was physical because they needed to know the exact place to cross the river. But, walking was also spiritual. They were to walk in the ways of God to overcome the obstacle. In both the Old and New Testaments you are to WALK in a spiritual walk with the Lord.

20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Exodus 18:20


1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1


Both the physical walk and the spiritual walk were then and are now important to what the Lord was doing in the hearts of the people teaching them to overcome obstacles. Did you notice the difference between this miracle and the parting of the Red Sea? In parting the Red Sea, Moses held up his staff and the Lord spit the Red Sea before the people entered in. Here they are told to step into the raging river. Why do you suppose there was a difference? Perhaps, because they were in a spiritual WALK of faith learning to trust and obey.


A winning walk is one of trust and obedience in the Lord.

Your life is much like the Israelites standing on the banks of the Jordan River when you face obstacles. In the Christian life there are times when the Lord leads you to overwhelming obstacles to living in the area of the world that is your Promised Land. Is there a lesson here for you to learn in overcoming the obstacles that God puts before you and to win?


For You To Win God’s Way You Must Have A Winning Walk Of Trust And Obedience To The Lord In This World.


How can you do that?


Living the Word Applications: How YOU Can Develop a Winning Walk This Week!



WEDNESDAY: Being Spiritually Prepared v. 5.

In verse 5, they were told to consecrate” themselves. This referred to spiritual preparations that included ritual cleansings in pools of water, abstinence from marital relations and fasting from certain foods.[ii] All of this was to prepare them spiritually to walk in trust and obedience to the Lord. In the Promised Land, there were spiritual battles as well because the land was filled with idolatry and sinfulness. In your daily walk with the Lord, trust and obedience are not things that just happen. You must be spiritually prepared because you are in spiritual warfare every day in the Promised Land where you live, where you work, and where you play.

Most of you know that Barb and I coach marriages…new ones, good ones and those in jeopardy. In every case, when we send couples back home, we remind them that the Powers of Evil do not want them doing well in their homes. We encourage them to be alert and on guard for the onslaughts of the Devil every day. We encourage them to watch Priscilla Shirer’s WAR ROOM movie again and again. It is an uphill battle every day. Evil does not take time off…ever, and you cannot afford to either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIl-XY9t_Lw


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11


Prayer and fasting on a regular basis are always good ways to prepare yourself spiritually. Spending time in prayer each day should be a habit, but also consider regular fasting. Consider fasting one day a week or a month. Consider fasting as you are dealing with difficult obstacles and need the guidance of the Lord. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by being spiritually prepared. Do everything you can do to prepare and then trust the Lord for the outcomes. He can see in the dark, wherever He leads you.



THURSDAY: Seeking Counsel In The Right Place v. 5-12.

The people of Israel received counsel from Joshua in crossing the Jordan so they heard God’s Word from a godly man. Be selective in where you seek counsel. Listen to godly people by seeking counsel from people you know have a close walk with the Lord. Listen to God’s Word by reading slowly and attentively; paying attention to how the Holy Spirit pricks your heart on specific words or phrases and then trust and obey. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by seeking counsel in the right place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q00TXBPl9i4


An old Chinese proverb says, “Man sit for long time with mouth open waiting for roast duck to fly in.”


Wise counsel must be sought vigorously. Study your Bible topically about whatever obstacle is in front of you. Consult with people you know are walking with God vigorously and daily. Read devotional books. Ask for help. Then when you have to decide what trust and obey means, be willing to pray this prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I have sought your word, I have consulted with people whom I am confident are seeking your best for their lives, I have prayed diligently for wisdom…now I am ready to take action. It seems to me that THIS is the way You want me to go and I’m willing to step out on faith to make that happen. If this is not the way You want me to go, then please make it crystal clear that I’m on the wrong path. I just want to be what you want me to be and I’ll go wherever you lead. Please hear this prayer because I make it in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.



FRIDAY: Having A Victorious Attitude v. 10.

The children of Israel were to have the attitude that God had already given them victory over all the Promised Land. God gave them these visual reminders that they could hark back to whenever they were fearful in the future. Repeatedly God gave them miracles like the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, manna and quail in the desert, water where there was none. But those were signs of God’s favor to their parents and God in His infinite wisdom gave them a sign of their own for them to remember as they faced other obstacles in conquering the Promised Land. They could look back to the miracle of the Jordan River and know that it was through trust and obedience that the Lord would continue to overcome obstacles.


In your Promised Land, where you live, where you work, and where you play there will always be obstacles to overcome, but you don’t need a defeated attitude. I have read the end of the book and WE WIN.


You are to have a victorious attitude by looking back to the cross and the resurrection because the victory is already yours and mine in our Promised Land. What Christ did on the cross and the resurrection lets us know that we have victory in our Promised Land where we live, where work, and where we play no matter what obstacles we face. Have a victorious attitude and keep trusting and obeying.


33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33


5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5


He is the living God who dwells in you and He who is in you in greater than the world so we keep trusting and obeying. Develop a winning walk of trust and obedience by having a victorious attitude. You can do this!


[i] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua. Baker Book House, 1988. 38.

[ii] Howard, David M. The New American Commentary: Joshua. Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1998. 122-123.


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?


(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



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.


Joshua: Winning Unity

Joshua • “Winning Unity”

Joshua 1:10-18

September 25-29, 2017


In 1961 Thomas van Beek, then a twenty-five year old executive, needed to hire a personal secretary. After a long and discouraging procession of applicants, a bright and charming young lady came into his office for an interview. Her name was Miss Neef. Her references were impeccable, her typing and shorthand were more than adequate, and more importantly, she projected an aura of personal stability, confidence, and energy. Tom hired her on the spot.


After Miss Neef’s first week on the job, Tom was sue he had found the perfect assistant. She was an executive’s dream. When she answered the phone, she projected authority; when faced with emergencies, she was always calm. She never seemed to grow weary or frayed from stress.


Miss Neef was tireless. At the end of a long day—-even when her young employer was completely exhausted— she was always fresh and energetic. She never ceased to amaze him. He could not understand how she remained so energized, so on top of her game.


After twelve years, Tom discovered the answer to that mystery. Miss Neef told him she was ready to retire. She didn’t desire another job offer; she was simply ready to step down as his private secretary.

Tom gracefully accepted her resignation and decided to throw her a going away party. He decided to do it up right.


He pulled out all the stops, and then was stopped dead in his tracks. For shortly after the guest of honor arrived—-the guest of honor arrived. And the secret to Miss Neef’s boundless energy was no longer a mystery. Where Tom had been certain for twelve years that his one secretary was two, he discovered that two had been doing the work of one all along. Miss Neef was actually identical twin sisters sharing the same job. They had worked together so effectively that Tom never suspected. Each worked half the time and split the paycheck.


For more than a decade, the sisters worked in such a harmonious partnership—communicating, brainstorming, covering each other when needed— that no one knew not even the person who spent forty hours a week with them. They were truly working as one.[i]


They were poster children for

Winning Unity

. That’s the title for this week’s study: “Winning Unity.”
I have mentioned to you before an upcoming movie

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. It opens in theaters October 20 and I encourage you to go see how befriending one man created a cascading Winning Unity that continues to bear fruit. Check it out. Here’s the trailer along with a challenge to Make a Difference

. That’s the essence of Winning Unity.



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

John Donne’s classic tells of the connectedness we all share, and yet, as our study this week will show, you need others in unity to be all you can be.




No Man is an Island’

No man is an island entire of itself;

Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

As well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were;

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. –

John Donne


Joshua tells us of a time when God gave a specific example of the importance that Unity plays in Winning.

10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ” 12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.” 16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Joshua 1:10-18


Fresh off the words of encouragement from the Lord in verses 1-9 (

review last week’s DD

), Joshua stepped up as the new leader of the nation of Israel and commanded his officers to prepare the people to cross the Jordan and claim the Promised land. One of the intriguing commands given in this passage was to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. Even though they had asked for land on the east side of the Jordan River, Joshua told them they too must cross the River with the 9 ½ other tribes to claim the land of Canaan based on the commandment of Moses. What is happening here? There is some background knowledge in Numbers 32 that will help you understand this situation. Look it up.


In Numbers 32, these 2 ½ tribes decided that the land of Gilead on the east side of the Jordan was ideal for raising livestock and since they were shepherds and ranchers, they requested that Moses give them that land as their portion of the Promised land. Here’s what Moses told them:

6 But Moses said to the people of Gad and to the people of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them? 8 Your fathers did this, when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the people of Israel from going into the land that the Lord had given them. Numbers 32:6-9

In verses 8 – 9, Moses refers back to their initial approach to the Promised Land described in Numbers 13 – 14. Other than Joshua and Caleb, the report of 10 of the spies discouraged Israel’s heart and led to rebellion against God that sentenced them to 40 years of wilderness wandering until all over 20 years of age died. Moses sensing the discouragement that would happen again says, “

There will NOT be another rebellion! There will be unity in the nation following the Lord. We will all go into the Promised Land together. “ These tribes responded by saying, “We will go into the land with you.

” In our verses this morning, Joshua reinforces the commitment they made to Moses for the unity of the nation.


The unity of the nation was vitally important to Israel moving into the Promised Land and we see it emphasized in the first chapter of Joshua. Joshua 1:2 says, “

you and all this people go to the land which I am giving to them, the children of Israel.” You can see it again in the challenge given to these 2 ½ tribes to enter the land of Canaan even though they had already been given possession of their land. Dale Ralph Davis is Minister in Residence, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to that he was pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi. He notes in his commentary on Joshua, that “all Israel” is a concern throughout the book of Joshua.[ii]



TUESDAY: The Lord Called Israel To Demonstrate Winning Unity.

Winning was a direct result of their Unity. God said, ‘Come on boys, we’re doing this together’ or something like that. So, how were they to demonstrate this winning unity? By fighting their brother’s battles with them.

14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

Joshua 1:14-15


Joshua said, “I know you are already at rest, but you need to join your brother tribes and help them by fighting their battles until they too have rest.”


The purpose of fighting other people’s battles with them was to encourage them in their faith.

In Moses’ initial command to these tribes in Numbers 32, he was concerned about their hearts being discouraged over their lack of faith that God would indeed lead them to claim the land of Canaan.

6 Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here? 7 Why will you discourage the heart of the people of Israel from going over into the land that the Lord has given them

?” Numbers 32:6-7


Not going across the Jordan with the nation could easily have fractured the tenuous faith of the other tribes from wanting to go across. However, with these 2 ½ tribes crossing with them even when they already possessed their land it would encourage the faith of the rest of the nation to claim their land.


As we will see when we get to the 4


chapter of Joshua, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh brought a significant fighting force to add to the other tribes

12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.

Joshua 4:12-13


The same thing is true in living the Christian life. When you feel like you are fighting battles on your own, you can feel discouraged and want to give up. How often do you get discouraged about striving to claim the Promised Land where you live and work for the Lord because the battles too tough. But what a difference it makes in our faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you. Take a few minutes to hear an excerpt from Vance Havner’s sermon…

You’re Not Alone, Look Who’s Here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA-XbA7NGaU . It’s also a chapter in his little book Playing Marbles with Diamonds

. Worth a listen or a read. You Are NOT Alone!

Each autumn one of the wonders of nature that alerts you to the coming of winter is the sight of a flock of geese flying south for the winter. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates and uplift for the bird behind it. By flying in a V-formation, a flock of geese increases its flying range by 72% compared to each bird flying alone. When the lead goose grows tired, he rotates back in formation and another goose flies up front for a while. As they fly, the geese in the back honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed and momentum.[iii]



These geese face incredible odds, extreme circumstances and weather, daily battles to survive and to reach their final destination, but the only way they survive is through uniting together and fighting those battles together.

What a difference it can make in your faith, when you know that you are not alone and others are fighting the battle with you.


How can we demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them?

Living the Word Applications: Demonstrate a winning unity by…


WEDNESDAY: A Community Commitment v. 16-18.

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses!”

Joshua 1:16-17


Notice the repeated use of the words “

us” and “we

.” The Reubenites and the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh were so committed to one another they were willing to cross over the Jordan and fight their brother’s battles.


As followers of Jesus Christ, you must be committed to your fellow believers. You must be committed to our church body, our members, and our mission in the world. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed to helping other Christians, but it does mean that your community commitment is to


church body. This means you are involved in the lives of this community of believers. Increase your commitment level by involving yourself in Sunday school classes where you come to build deeper relationships with others in this church body. Increase your commitment level by serving alonsdied others of us in various ministries. Demonstrate winning unity by a community commitment.


THURSDAY: Being Present For Others In Their Battles v. 14-15.

The very presence of these 2 ½ tribes WITH the other tribes going into the Land of Canaan encouraged the hearts of all of them. When you know of battles that others are facing, be present with them in their battle by getting involved. While you may not know what to say, your presence with them for even 30 minutes can encourage them in the battle. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mow someone else’s yard
  • Edge a neighbor’s sidewalks
  • Take meals to home bound persons
  • Help neighbors restore their homes i.e. iServe
  • Breakfast/lunch for someone who has lost loved one – do it for a year (remember that after the casserole dishes go home, the grief remains)
  • Call the church and find out who is in the hospital and then make a hospital visit
  • Give a gift of kindness and remain anonymous
  • Babysit for a couple with children so they can have a date night
  • Buy a meal for a first responder who is eating where you are.
  • Thank a service man/woman in uniform
  • Thank a police officer for his/her service
  • Write Thank You notes
  • Volunteer at Grace Bridge
  • Pray for Marcy and tell her so. Respond to CaringBridge
  • Adopt a widow or widower and create a new ‘family’ for them
  • Bake cookies and take a batch to all your neighbors – get acquainted
  • Clothe a child
  • Be a Big Brother or Big Sister
  • Go on a mission trip to Togo or Ciudad Acuña
  • Volunteer to help at Beach Club Bible on Tuesdays


It’s amazing how many opportunities there are for you to help your brothers and sisters fight the battles they are facing.


For years now I have made it a habit to stay close to my friends who have lost loved ones. I make it a point to meet with them weekly, remember key dates like birthdays and anniversaries and holidays. Sometimes it’s little more than buying breakfast or lunch, a phone call, or a handwritten note. My favorite is buying breakfast. Just remember that the grief lingers long after the casserole dishes go home.




FRIDAY: Be Transparent About Your Battles…Ask For Help v. 14.

Did you notice how Joshua reminded the Israelites about their prior commitment? He was being transparent, asking for help. Is it true of you that one of the difficulties you have is admitting that you are in a battle and asking for help? Even Joshua, this great leader, was transparent enough to say, “We’re facing some big battles and we need your help.” How many of you don’t want to be transparent when you’re in a battle or struggling because you don’t want to be a problem for others?


But, it’s important to note that being transparent and asking for help encouraged unity.


All of you will face battles of some sort in the coming months, but you are not to face the battles alone. Some of you will face:

  • Financial issues
  • Loss of job
  • Relationships with your spouse
  • Children who have gone off the reservation
  • Health issues from the mundane to life threatening
  • Aging parents and grandparents
  • End of Life Issues
  • Threats of war and catastrophic losses
  • Temptations with sin
  • Struggles with drugs and alcohol
  • Pornography


No matter what your battle, you don’t have to face your battles alone.

You’re Not Alone…Look Who’s Here,

and not only is He here, I make a good friend and I care. How can I serve you?


In closing, I want you to know that there is one more fascinating fact about those geese flying in a V-formation. Any time on the journey that one of the geese becomes sick or wounded and falls out of formation, one or two geese will drop out and follow him down. They will stay with him until he is able to fly again or is dead, then they will rejoin another formation. If these geese have enough instinct and mercy to pull out and help their sick or wounded or hurting, then shouldn’t we as the church?


Demonstrate winning unity by fighting other people’s battles with them. There is no shortage of opportunity to plug in.

[i] http://scopenewsletter.com/illustrations/a-natural-partnership/

[ii] Davis, Dale Ralph. No Falling Words: Expositions of the Book of Joshua.

Baker Book House, 1988. 20.

[iii] Maxwell, John. The Power of Partnership.

InJoy Ministries, 1999. 76-77.


Worship From God’s Perspective: “Worshipful Bringing”


Worship from God’s Perspective • “Worshipful Bringing”

Malachi 3:6-15

August 21-25, 2017


Have you noticed this year how frequently we have had rainfall in Celina this year? Most of you know that we have among the highest water rates in North Texas

, https://sites.google.com/site/celinatestsite/departments-1/utility-billing/water-sewer-rates so the well- spaced rain we have had this year has made it much less necessary to water our lawns and flowers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_0seoCoOwIn.

That’s a good thing.


A few weeks ago we discussed the prospects of a universal flood when we studied the Genesis passages on Noah. (See

Digging Deeper for August 7-11). Not only did it rain cats and dogs for 40 days straight, a couple of other phenomena occurred…the fountains of the great deep burst forth and the windows of heavens

were opened.


Noah and his family escaped on the ark as God began to judge the earth through the flood.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Genesis 7:11-12


God’s Word says, “

the windows of heaven opened and the rain fell upon the earth…” Can you even begin to imagine the downpour of rain that lasted forty days and forty nights? In the past week or so, we’ve seen rain move through our area and it hasn’t been just piddly rain; it has been a deluge of rain as that fell very hard and very fast. When I think of the windows of heaven opening up and rain falling upon the earth as it did in Genesis 7, that’s what I imagine. What about you? But did you know there is only one other time the phrase “the windows of heaven opened…”

is mentioned in the Bible?

10 “And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

Malachi 3:10


This other time the phrase “

open the windows of heaven…” is used is NOT in connection with judgment, but in direct connection to God’s blessing; a blessing so large that every need would be and will be met. This promise of blessing is given in the context of tithing. The Lord of Host, Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת, was the name of the Lord we studied last week. It reminds us that the Lord has all the resources and abilities to overcome circumstances. The people of Israel needed to see the Lord clearly as Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, so they would respond in worship by bringing their tithe to the Lord of Hosts. When you see the Lord clearly as Lord of Hosts, you will respond in worshipful bringing of your tithes to Him. Read this verse in its context…

6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. 13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ”


In last week’s study of Malachi 1:6-14, God chastised the people of Israel for offering lame and blind animals in sacrifice to Him rather than giving Him their best animals. Fast forward that truth, and from God’s perspective you are instructed to give God

excellence in your worship and not your leftovers. The Lord rebuked them for NOT giving Him His tithe and keeping the best for themselves and giving God leftovers “You are robbing me

.” Wow! What strong words!


Have you ever been accused of stealing something? To steal something means that you take a possession that belongs to someone else and that’s exactly what the people of Israel were doing…stealing. By not tithing, they were taking a possession that belonged to someone else, in this case, to the Lord of Hosts. (

He has all resources as Lord of Hosts so you don’t bring it to Him because He needs it; you bring it to Him because you recognize He has given it to you in the first place

.) The tithe belongs to the Lord….

30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.”

Leviticus 27:30


The tithe was the top 10% of the Lord’s provision for the people whether it was crops from the field, seeds, fruit or animals. In Proverbs 3:10

, God’s people were instructed to honor Him with their wealth and “the FIRST FRUITS of all your produce

.” The first fruits were the most excellent portions of their land and animals and the tithe was to be the first and best, right off the top.


MONDAY: From God’s Perspective Tithing Is Bringing To God What Rightfully Belongs To Him—The Most Excellent Portions Of His Provision For You.

When you withhold the tithe from God, you are robbing Him of what rightfully belongs to Him. In essence, by not tithing you are stealing from God. Hey, I didn’t write this stuff, I just work here.


Look, God doesn’t NEED your tithe; He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills—although in truth, He frequently delivers them one hamburger at a time. Perhaps you can impact that by trusting Him when He says failure to do so is highway robbery.


Look At It Another Way, By NOT Tithing, You Are Not Only Stealing From God, But You Are Robbing Yourself V. 10.


Have you ever stolen from yourself? God’s Word says that by NOT tithing, you are stealing from yourself. Go back to verse 10. The Lord told the people to bring the full tithe, not 5% or 9% but the full 10% to Him,

10 And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven FOR YOU and pour down blessing until there is no more need

.” Malachi 3:10


The main emphasis of this passage is the blessing of God poured out on His people; on you and me when we tithe.

O.S. Hawkins, who is president of GuideStone Financial Resources

which serves 250,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 30 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation. About this this passage, he says:

“The whole emphasis of the Word of God is not on our giving as much as it is on His opening the windows of heaven to pour us out a blessing so that there would not be room enough to receive. God wants to bless us far more than we want a blessing. The tithe is a starting place in getting God into action in the affairs of men.”[i]


You see by NOT tithing you rob yourself of…


God’s provision v. 10.

A lot of times it’s easy to think,

If I give 10% at the beginning of the month, then I won’t make it. I’ll have more month left at the end of the money

. But God’s Word clearly says here that by NOT tithing you are robbing yourself of God’s provision to meet your need and you won’t make it. However, since the promise of God is that if you will trust Him by tithing, He will supernaturally bless with more than enough to meet your monthly needs. By NOT tithing you also rob yourself of…


God’s Protection v. 11.

11“I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”


The Lord of Hosts,

Yahweh Sabaoth יַהְוֶה צְבָאוֹת

, who has all the heavenly resources to meet our needs will protect what you have left so that His abundant provision comes from what you have left. You see, God’s abundant provision from the windows of Heaven doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery, but He will provide abundantly from what you have left over after tithing. Notice this; If you give God your left overs you won’t have enough from the leftovers to make it. However, if you bring to God the most excellent tithe, He will provide for you abundantly from the leftovers. He’ll protect what you have left.

Warren Weirsbe

American pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works wrote,

the money that rightfully belongs to God that we keep for ourselves never stays with us. It ends up going to the doctor, the auto body shop or the tax collector.”[ii]



Scripture corroborates this statement. Haggai was dealing with the ancestral fathers of these people and stated that not tithing was:

6From the days of your fathers… 7 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes

. Malachi 1:6-7


You rob yourself of God’s protection and of His provision when you don’t tithe. But that’s not all;

by NOT tithing, you are not only stealing from God and stealing from yourself, you are stealing from others v. 12.

The Lord of Hosts will bless so powerfully if you obey,

12 Then all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of Hosts.


The Lord’s abundant blessing upon His people would be then and will be now a living testimony to the world that He is the Lord of Hosts and the true God. If God’s people today, followers of Jesus Christ, will tithe then there will be more than enough resources to fund the Gospel ministry in our communities, our states, our nations and in the world. However, by not tithing, church budgets struggle, missionaries will have to come home, and we rob others of hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at some applications.


Living the Word Applications: What can YOU do to a Worshipful Giver?



TUESDAY: Restoring Your Relationship With The Lord V. 7.

7“Return to ME and I will return to you says the Lord of Hosts.”



It only makes sense that you cannot be in a right relationship with someone from whom you are stealing. Right? The way you demonstrate that you are returning to the Lord is by tithing. As long as you are not tithing and stealing from God your relationship with the Lord will suffer. You will rob yourself of the sense of presence in your life—His closeness, and the experience of His provision and protection. Take some extra time today to review your practices of bringing some of what you are blessed to receive back to God. Are you at this minimum level of acceptable giving?



WEDNESDAY: Taking the Test…Tithing v. 10.

10put ME to the test, says the Lord of Hosts…”



This is the one place in Scripture where God’s people are told to test Him. The Lord wants us to test Him in this promise to “

open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing until there is no need

.” Understand that this is a step of faith for those who are tithing and those who are not tithing. If you are tithing, share with others how you have seen God’s provision in your life and continue to tithe. If you are not tithing, then God’s Word challenges you to test Him and then watch Him provide.
Mary Hunt is one of my all time favorites. I get a free blog from her everyday. It’s called “

Everyday Cheapskate

” and is a delightfully written pilgrimage to find better, cheaper, faster ways to get things done in your life. I love it.


She also is a huge proponent of the 10-10-80 rule you have heard me talk about before. Here is a 50+slide deck in a .pdf format:


It’s worth a browse. She also offers a

Debt-Proof Living

system that is worth a look. The wise counsel is that you must give away 10% of what you earn, save 10% of what you earn (not your 401k, but money you bring home) until you have an emergency fund equal to at least six months of your income and then learn to live on 80% of what you earn. It requires discipline of the highest order. I urge you to take a look. A part of what you earn is yours to keep.


The Gorgeous Redhead and I took this to heart some years ago and now are debt free. We don’t purchase anything we cannot pay for in the month the purchase is made. For us, living frugally is not a fad, it’s a lifestyle. I grew up with the mantra ‘

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without

.’ It’s not a chore anymore to continue to do so and it enables us to keep on saving and giving.


Pastor Kevin made you this deal Sunday: Tithe this month and if you don’t make it, if you don’t see God provide for you, then tell him and the church will refund your tithe back to you. This is an easy deal to make, because I believe in the promise of God so strongly. Are you in?



THURSDAY: Moving Beyond The Test…Offerings V. 8.

This robbing of God was also mentioned in conjunction with offerings. The tithing was to be the beginning point for God’s people and they were move beyond that to offerings. An offering is over and above the tithe and is another step of faith in trusting the Lord for His provision. Maybe the next step of faith for you is moving to giving above your tithe. Will you do that? Will you trust God to provide?


I find it interesting that once you move into New Testament, the Apostle Paul adds another wrinkle about giving.

2 Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay aside in store as God hath prospered him, so that there need be no gatherings when I come.

I Corinthians 16:2


8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

II Corinthians 9:8


In the first letter to the church at Corinth, God suggested through Paul that perhaps the tithe was the minimum standard in proportionate giving and if and as God prospers you more, you will be motivated to give more.


It seems that God wanted the New Testament believers to KNOW that they could give generously and still have plenty left over for everything else.


FRIDAY: Changing Your Perspective On Tithing…Bringing V. 10.

10 “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse…” This could literally translated, “You bring



I find it interesting that God doesn’t say, “

Give your tithe” because most often it is described as “give.” “Bring

carries a different connotation. Bringing points toward returning to the Owner of all things, the Lord of Hosts, what is rightfully His. It isn’t giving but repaying. You can bring it with your checkbook or cash or even on your phone with automatic withdrawal. I think one of the challenges of automatic withdrawal is that it happens without ever thinking about it. However, while the people were bringing their tithes they were mindful of God’s blessing to them. Practically, if you are set up with automatic withdrawal, then each month as you look at your bank account, find that tithe withdrawal and spend a few moments worshiping God for His provision for you. Bringing was a personal act of worship where the worshiper was bringing to the Lord in reflection of the Lord’s provision.

From God’s perspective, tithing is a personal act of worship coming from a heart that acknowledges God’s provision in your life.


Some of you know who Craig Groeschel is. He’s senior pastor of

LifeChurch with HQ in Edmond, OK. That church meets in about 30 locations around the country and globally online. He’s a dynamic communicator. One of his series dovetails with this week’s study. It’s a 4 part series and I urge you strongly to take time to gather your family around and watch this archived series entitled Making Change

. Life Church makes these archived messages available free of charge to anyone who wants them. You will find the message video, sermon outline, copy of the transcript and a discussion guide for follow up. The titles of the presentations are:
  • Less is More
  • Stress is Bad
  • Giving is Good
  • Tomorrow Matters



Barb and I have watched this series and it’s dynamite. We encourage you to do the same this week as you ponder the calls to action for generous giving. We’d l love to hear from you if you do this.

[i] Hawkins, O.S. Money Talks.

Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999. 44-45.

[ii] Weirsbe, Warren. Be Amazed.

Victor Books, 1996. 160.