Sun. a.m. AGCC 7/20/1997
TEXT: Joshua 1:1-9
INTRO: One of the great truths of
the Bible that give us comfort is the promise of God to never leave us or
forsake us...a promise in both Old and New Testament. Just the knowledge that
God will stand with us can give us the courage to endure anything that comes
against us. Our commander in chief, the Lord Jesus Christ, always stands ready
to help us. The only time we don't feel His presence is when we drift from
Him....if He seems far away, it is not because He has moved from us, it is
because we have moved from Him!
The knowledge that God is nearby should give us the courage to stand
against overwhelming odds!
ILLUS: President Madison's declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812 was not popular with many Americans, especially when the first year of conflict brought a series of shattering American defeats. New England was in a virtual state of secession; the governor of Vermont ordered the state militia to resign from national service; and in Massachusetts there was talk of negotiating a separate peace with the enemy.
After threatening for a year, the British actually attacked the capital in August 1814. While President Madison rode out to the battlefield in an attempt to instill confidence in the untrained troops, the citizens of Washington streamed out of the city into Virginia. Even the militia assigned to protect the White House deserted their posts. But First Lady Dolley Madison refused to budge.
Before the White House was burned, Dolley saved her husband's papers, a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a valuable portrait of George Washington. She would leave only at the last minute--and returned as soon as Madison sent word that the British had left Washington.
Dolley's dramatic rescue of George Washington's
portrait silenced her husband's critics and infused the once-divided nation with
a new spirit. When news of the British burning of the White House spread, people
who had been denouncing the war and talking surrender abruptly changed their
minds. Confronted by a united, determined people, the British were more than
willing to sign a peace treaty six months later. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House
Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 399.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God will never forsake us or leave us,
that as long as we stand by Him and His Word we can have courage to be
I. A PERSON 1:1-4
A. Call 1:1-2
1. With Moses dead, Israel was still short of its goal...the promise land.
a. They had learned how to live in the desert...why go on?
b. God didn't want them to stay in a desert however, He had better things in store for them.
c. God needed a person to accept the call to take His people forward!
2. Joshua was the man of choice....God had more for Israel than just desert life!
a. Joshua had a choice...to exist with things as they were, or follow God and accomplish great things for God.
b. Joshua was not content to just sit by or exist with present comforts,
the call of God to serve was too great, he wished to do something significant
ILLUS: In attempting to recruit John Sculley, the 38-year-old President of Pepsi-Cola, Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer, issued a tremendous challenge to Sculley. He asked: "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?"
What a challenge to all Christians! Are we
settling for less than God's best in our lives? -- Odyssey, John Sculley, p.90
3. Joshua could have always been second fiddle to Moses, and rested near the promise land with the knowledge of how to live in a desert, but he chose to accept God's challenge to go all the way for God's best!
a. Are we satisfied living on someone else's sacrifices for God?
b. Are we completely willing to just "make sugar water" for the rest of our lives or do something that will have eternal consequences?
c. Is it enough to just exist and survive as a Christian, or do you want to experience God's best?
4. God makes the call for all Christians to engage in service and sharing
the good news...have we accepted the call or are we just as happy to exist in a
B. Conviction 1:3-4
1. God wanted them to move into a land flowing with milk and honey and not just be satisfied with a desert experience and survival....
a. but to have this they would have to move forward and not stand still!
b. The journey of faith is not a "stand still" experience!
ILLUS: A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for. John A. Shedd
--James S. Hewett,
Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 130.
2. Has God called you to speak to a friend, a neighbor, a relative about Christ but you have decided to stay safe in the harbor rather than launch out in faith with the conviction that God may do something great if we do?
3. Joshua had to have the conviction that God wasn't done with Israel just because Moses had passed from the scene.
a. It was time to complete the journey for God's people and His new chosen leader.
b. This was no time to kick back and slow down!
4. God's promises to the former generation were still God's promises to the new generation...all they needed was the same conviction that God will make good on all His promises to move forward.
a. God's promises to His disciples and followers of the first century are just as good to us today!
b. Are we convinced that when we do something in faith God will be there to enable us?
5. God always needs a man/woman (or child!) to have the conviction to move
forward...and then watch what God will do with this!
II. A PROMISE 1:5-6
A. Commitment 1:5
1. God does not ask Joshua to do something without the promise of being there to stand right with him!
a. This is still true today! God will not ask you to do anything without also being there to enable you to do it!
b. Even in the darkest of situations God's presence will give us the edge
over those who walk in darkness!
ILLUS: The late singer and actor Gordon MacRae told this story:
It seems that Arnold Palmer was invited to come
to a convention of blind golfers. He asked the golfers how they were able to
know what direction to hit the ball. One blind golfer explained that the caddy
went out ahead of him with a little bell which he would ring as he stood near
the hole. The blind golfer would then hit the ball toward the sound of the bell.
Arnold asked how well it worked, and the blind golfer said that it worked so
well he was willing to take on Arnold Palmer for a round of golf; and just to
make it interesting, was willing to bet Palmer ten thousand dollars he could
beat him. Well, this just blew Palmer's mind. He pressed him, but the man
insisted he was willing to bet that amount on his ability to beat Palmer. So,
the deal was struck. Palmer said, "OK. What time do we tee off?" And the blind
man said, "10:30--tonight!" --James S. Hewett,
Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp.
2. While it may seem to the world that we are at a disadvantage, we are the ones in better shape, while the world lives in darkness and can't see its way, we know the presence of God standing nearby and we can always find our way!
a. God will never waver from His promise to with us!
b. Jesus issued the same statement in Matt. 28:20 "and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
3. God's legacy of faithfulness to those He has called to service shows an unbroken record of power and victory!
4. The God who calls us will always be there beside us...and He will never forsake us or leave us!
a. This is God's commitment to us!
b. God had demonstrated this truth to Moses, Joshua's mentor and
predecessor...He will do the same for Joshua too!
B. Courage 1:6
1. If God's people are going to make it, the leaders must have the courage to ENCOURAGE them!
a. All of God's people must have courage...we take courage from God first who has promised to be with us...
b. and then courage from each other as we challenge each other to walk the walk of faith.
2. We must speak the same thing..."God will help us" if we are to succeed together!
a. Though Moses had been used to move Israel from Egypt to the promise land, Joshua now was to move them into it!
b. It is Christ who spoke that He will bring us into the promised place in eternity, but it is suppose to be our voice now to this world telling them about Christ!
c. We have the same message to give as Christ gave!
ILLUS: "We shall fight on the beaches... We shall never
surrender." Millions were moved by Winston Churchill's now-famous speech when it
was broadcast on the radio (June 4, 1940). What few realized was that it was not
Churchill they were listening to, but an actor named Norman Shelley. Churchill,
who had delivered the speech to Parliament earlier in the day, was too busy to
repeat it for broadcast, so he asked the BBC to get a substitute. Shelley, a BBC
employee who had been heard imitating Churchill's voice, got the job. "Very
nice," Churchill said of Shelley's work. -- Memories Magazine in Forbes, June 3, 1996, p. 28.
3. God's plan with God's man(woman) will not fail when combined with faith
and courage to act!
III. A PLAN 1:7-9
A. Conditions 1:7-8
1. Again God encourages in Joshua courage and strength but gives an interesting condition before promising success.... Obedience!
a. God's promise of success for our lives is not without responsibility on our part!
b. While God promised to be with Joshua and Israel there would still be responsibility on their part also...to obey God's Word!
2. This is where many believers fall short in experiencing God's best in their lives, they forget that they are responsible to keep God's Word in the trials of life.
a. God's promise of never leaving us or forsaking is absolute, but success hinges on obedience on our part!
b. Unlike the promise of His presence, the promise of success was conditional.
(1. God was with Israel in the desert, but He wanted them to have success in the promise land too!
(2. God wants us to know both His presence and His power!
c. Too many Christians never lead successful lives in Christ because they fail to be obedient to God's Word!
3. There is only one GOOD way to experiencing God's best in our lives, the
road map is the Word of God!
ILLUS: Many European towns still bear the marks of having been
surrounded by walls in the Middle Ages. Streets near these old walls are curved
and sometimes come to dead ends. A man stopped a stranger and asked him the way
to reach a certain address. The stranger directed him but the inquirer was still
a little dubious. "Is that the best way?" he asked. The stranger quickly
answered, "It is the only way. If you follow the other turning it will bring you
back here." -- Donald Grey
Barnhouse, Bible Truths Illustrated (Keats Publishing, 1979), p. 22.
4. While we are quick to cling to the promises of God to comfort us, we must also be quick to cling to the challenges of the Word of God to correct us!
a. obedience to the Word of God gives an open door to God's Spirit to work in us unrestrained.
b. Joshua and Israel's obedience would make them invincible against their enemies...for God would always be with them in the battles!
(1. The later stories in the Bible bear this truth out: when Israel was obedient to God's Word they had victory.
(2. but when they were disobedient they had failure, even when God was still with them!
(3. This is a principle too often missed by Christians today, they are happy to have God's presence in their lives, but live a frustrated life of failure because they don't obey the Word of God!
(a. so they live in fear rather than faith!
(b. they are constantly discouraged and weak!
(c. they have no joy in their lives as a Christian!
(4. Why not have both God's presence and power in your life?
5. Their obedience to God's Word would actually be the backdrop to their courage and strength...there would be no obstacles between them and God so they would be at peace even in the midst of war!
a. Those who walk faithfully after God's Word are not nearly as likely to
be broken and frightened as those who do not.
ILLUS: A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to a person
who isn't. (Unknown)
b. God's presence is powerful to those who hold close the Word of God!
6. We will always be a success when we practice the Word and not just
preach it....for God never forsakes us or His Word!
B. Comfort 1:9
1. God now once again tells Joshua to have courage, not to be discouraged and to be strong...for God will always be with him and Israel
a. They will be invincible with God!
b. They will never be without God's presence!
c. They will never fail as they walk in obedience!
2. What greater comfort can one have then this: to know God promise to always be with us, to never forsake us or leave us?
a. The only way to make distance between you and God is to drift away from Him!
b. Keep Him close...and be comforted!
CONCLUSION: God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us! This promise however does make a requirement of us if we are to be comforted and strengthened by God's presence...this includes obedience on our part! While salvation comes from His presence, success comes from obedience. The only way to get far from God is for us to drift from Him...when He seems far away it is not because He has moved, but because we have moved! He will never forsake us or leave us, so be strong and courageous as you live out His Word!