Retire?

Recently, while cleaning out an old file, I came across an article written many years ago by my father. His writing reflects upon his age and entering into his retirement years. Today’s posting features some excerpts from that article.

A cup of hot tea and two lemons brought me to tranquility of soul one rainy night in January when I was home alone, pondering retirement form the business world and at the same time mentally scanning the years fled by.

Retirement carried such a dread of uselessness. Filled with self-pity, I moved toward the refrigerator in search of a lemon. I found two–one I had recently purchased, the other, one I had long overlooked.

The newer lemon was soft, smooth of skin with minute pores. Its color was as buttercups in full bloom. How like the days when my skin was clear, my muscles lithe and my hair abundant and yellow as corn silk! I affectionately termed this one my “Memory” lemon.

The older lemon was the “Mirror” which reflected the fruit of refrigerated dormancy–lime green at the base, paper yellow with age, skin tougher and somewhat veined, with scars from the competition for space in the cold storage; hard knocks from butter cartons, hot sauce bottles and tomato juice cans. True, old age and competitive struggles had taken their tol, but were the remainder of my days to be spent “on ice”? I am not an inanimate juice container; I am alive and I want to be useful! I may be shriveling, but I won’t be scrapped!

I reached for the kitchen knife with a sort of determined antagonism to those two lemons. I was going to probe their interiors until I was satisfied I had some answers that were relevant to my state and attitude.

“Memory” bent easily to the blade. My nostrils were promptly filled with a clean, crisp, refreshing aroma as that of the yellow jasmine. Drops of its pale liquid ran through my fingers. It was busting with a mildly fragrant aroma, thoroughly lemon. I squeezed a few drops into my tea-cup. “Memory” served me well.

“Mirror” took the knife with resistance, uttering a crackling sound to the cut. “Memory” had only 1 pit, “Mirror” had 5. Though the crispness and the gush were absent, “Mirror” still had ample fluid and a subdued, mellow fragrance. Aging had subdued sharpness and bitterness.

But there were two attributes in “Mirror” which were lacking in “Memory”. In the very center of the former was a pronounced, white “heart” from which radiated the “spokes” which housed the meat segments. “Memory” had the spokes and segments also but was lacking “heart”.

The other notable distinction was that “Mirror” had ten segments while “Memory” had but nine.

The tea-kettle whistled me to its handle. I gently squeezed a few drops of the aged one’s liquid into my tea-cup, added the tea and hot water, made myself comfortable in the “easy chair” and slowly sipped the blend of the two offerings.

Youth I once had. I was thankful for the memories of vigor and zest and of the abundant provision for body and soul.

Old age I have–and “Mirror” confronted me with reality. Though my skin is tougher, I am still usable. My heart is enlarged to those who have needs: from there the “spokes” of love can enclose the “meat” of other lives to be spent for others in service.

The additional segment? It is that which was missing in my youth–the dimension of the spirit and the realization that without God working in that realm I am only a “lemon”.
-Joseph Aaron Lessin

Bible Study

Going back before you can go forward   Joshua 8:1-35

Chapter 8 finds Israel facing the same city that they faced in chapter 7. The little city of Ai. The first time Israel went up to do battle at Ai, they were defeated by the inhabitants of that city and 36 of their number lost their lives. The reasons for their defeat are many, but the primary reason was that there was sin in their midst that had not been dealt with. That sin caused them to be defeated at Ai. Now, they are back and it was time for Israel to go and face these people in battle once again.

Before we move into these verses we need to remember that Ai, in the Bible, is a type of the flesh. The word “Ai” means “a heap of ruins.” That is a good way to describe this flesh in which we live. The first mention of this city is found in the book of Genesis in connection with the life of Abraham, Gen. 12:8; 13:3. The Bible tells us that Abraham pitched his tent “between Bethel and Hai.” Now, the name “Bethel” means, “The house of God.” Isn’t it interesting that many saints have pitched their tents somewhere between the house of God and a heap of ruins? Do you see the connection? You can either live in a place of victory and blessing, or you can live in a place of defeat and misery. You can either have a Bethel kind of life or an Ai experience, which is up to you!

Just like Israel, we often lose battles to our Ai, (this flesh), but through the Lord, we can learn how to ambush our Ai and walk away with the victory in our lives. I don’t know the battles that you are fighting with your flesh, but I do know that you can win the victory. These verses tell us how. Let’s look together at these verses and learn how to ambush your Ai.

I. V. 1-2 THE VICTORY IS PROMISED

A. V. 1 A Word About Winning – When the Lord speaks to Joshua, after the death of Achan, God tells him to go to Ai. However, he tells him that things will be different this time. He assures Joshua and Israel of the victory.

It is interesting that the Lord called them to return to the place of their greatest defeat. God knew that they needed to overcome the defeat at Ai before they could move on in the conquest of Canaan. Folks, it’s the same for you and me this morning. How many times have we lost the battle to the flesh? How many times have we been defeated by this old sinful nature’s lust for the forbidden? How many times have we fallen and wonder if we will ever get back to where we were before.  Notice what He told Joshua, “Fear not!” To those who have fallen and have lost a battle to the flesh, God says, “Fear not! I am giving you the victory!” I think it is a blessing to know that we do not have to live in defeat as a Christian! It is a blessing to know that we no longer a slave to sin, the flesh and the devil: 

Rom. 6:14 “ For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” 

I am thankful that God has promised the victory in this area to His children – 1 Cor. 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Remember the Lord did not save your soul to leave you defeated and beaten by the flesh. He saved you to walk in the victory that He can give to those who will walk in His ways and not in their own ways or in the ways of the world.

B. V. 2 A Word About Waiting – Notice that the Lord tells them that they will do to Ai what they did to Jericho, except for the fact that in Ai, they are to take all the spoils for themselves! If Achan would have waited just a few more days, then he could have had all the riches that he could have imagined. Instead, he ran ahead of God and grabbed for himself that which was forbidden by God and as a result, Achan paid the ultimate price. What a valuable lesson for you and me! We are guilty of the same kind of foolishness aren’t we? If we could just learn top wait on God and let Him lead and bring into our lives the things that need to be there, we would be far better off. Unfortunately, this flesh want what it wants and it wants it now! It doesn’t want to wait. Regardless of the arena you name, you are far better off to wait on the Lord to bring those things into your life that He knows are best for you, (i.e. Mate, sexuality, finances, ministry, etc.), than you are to run ahead of God and mess things up really bad and then expect Him to bail you out! When we can learn to wait on the Lord, we are well on our way to victory in the Christian life,; 

Ps. 130:5 ” I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”

Ps. 37:34 ”Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee …”

I. The Victory Is Promised

II. V. 3-26 THE VICTORY IS PURSUED

A. V. 3-17 They Had God’s Plan – God told them in exact detail how they were to mount their attack against Ai. They were to lay an ambush for Ai and they would take the city and all its inhabitants.

Israel had already learned what happens when you do things the Lord’s way. When you fight the battle by following His plan, you cannot fail. They had also learned what happens when they refused to do it God’s way. They learned that failure awaits that person who goes against the will of the Lord.

When we are talking about fighting this flesh that we all carry around. If you are going to pursue victory over your flesh and if you ever expect to gain the victory, then you must go about it God’s way. No other plan will work! I will say more about God’s plan for dealing with the flesh in a moment, but for now, you need to know that if you will win the victory over your flesh, then you need constant contact with the things of God. We are strengthened spiritually when we are exposed to the things of the Lord. There are several that need to be a huge part of our lives:

1. The Word of God – 1 Pet. 2:2 “…desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”; 

2 Tim. 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2. Prayer – 1Thes. 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”; 

James 4:2 “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”

3. Church Attendance – Heb. 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,”

4. The Fellowship of the Saints – 1 Cor. 12:14 “For the body is not one member, but many.” 

1 Cor. 12:27 “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

None of these things will give victory in and of themselves, but we need each one to strengthen us and to help us grow in the Lord. When we begin to neglect even one of these essential areas, then we are sure to suffer spiritually. You see, when we feed the flesh and ignore our spiritual needs, then we are headed for trouble in our spiritual lives!

B. V. 18-23 They Had God’s Power – Israel fought the battle, but God gave the victory! You see, the first time Israel went to Ai, they went in their own power and they suffered terrible, humiliating defeat. This time they went to battle walking in the power of God and they were victorious.

There is a lesson here for those of us who struggle with this flesh. The battle will not be won by our ability to say “No!” The battle will not be won because we are more powerful than the temptations we face. The fact is, if you try to fight the spiritual battles of life in your own power, you are headed for terrible defeat in your life. There is just one way for us to prevail in this battle, and that is for us to learn to appropriate the power of God in our lives. We need to realize that when we cannot win the battle, He can! When we are unable to fight the flesh, sin and the world, God will fight it for us, the way to fight the flesh: fight it in God’s power – 

Eph. 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”; 

1 Cor. 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  The only way any of us will ever see victory over this flesh is through the power of God!

Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:”

C. V. 24-26 They Had God’s Performance – These verses tell us the news that Israel trusted in the Lord and absolutely prevailed over their enemy. God did what He said He would do!

We are serving the very same God that gave Israel the victory. He hasn’t changed one bit! He is still the same God today that He always has been and always will be. You can count on God to keep His Word – 

Rom. 4:21 “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”; 

Psa. 119:89 “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.”; 

When we are engaged in a battle with this flesh, we need to be able to count on God, He is all powerful and He is able to help you as you fight the flesh and the battles of life: 

Heb. 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

I. The Victory Is Promised

II. The Victory Is Pursued

III. V. 27-35 THE VICTORY IS PRESERVED

At this point in this story, Israel has followed God’s plan and they have achieved the victory. Now, they must maintain their victory. They take two steps that make this a reality for them. In our lives, we can achieve the victory over the flesh! We can walk in the will of God and be alive to spiritual things. However, for us to maintain that victory, the same steps that Israel took, need to be taken by us. 

Romans 8:12 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

A. V. 27-29 Victory Is Preserved By Death – Please notice that they did not leave a single person alive in Ai. No one from the king down to the humblest servant was spared from death in this battle. Joshua knew that this enemy had to be totally eradicated or there would be problems down the road.

Your flesh is still alive and well, but it needs to be put to death! Now, there are some preachers going around telling folks that when they got saved, their flesh was put to death. But I’ve got news for you, they are wrong! Your flesh is as alive today as it ever has been. It still likes all the things that it used to like, and if you turned it loose, it would run to sin like a pig to a wallow. Your flesh is not saved. Your flesh is not holy. Your flesh is rotten and it hates God and everything He stands for! Of course, I am talking about our old sinful natures. Now, we need to understand some things about our flesh if we are to have the victory over it today. Look at some truths about our flesh.

1. Your flesh is alive and is at war with the Spirit of God Who is in you – Gal. 5:16-24 “16 Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

We have been given the divine nature – 2 Pet. 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 

This is a struggle that the Apostle Paul dealt with in great detail – Rom. 7:14-25.

2. At the same time, your flesh was crucified with Jesus Christ – 

Rom. 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.” 

This is our positional standing. In the eyes of God, our flesh, all it works and everything it stands for was crucified with Jesus at Calvary. God reckoned the wicked, sinful natures that we possess to be in His Son on the cross.

3. We are to put the flesh to death daily- Col. 3:1-10. This is how we are to live practically everyday. Why this list of sins? Because these are things that seem to have a way of dominating our lives. Notice what some of them are:

a. Fornication – Illicit sexual activities. There is only one appropriate place for the expression of the sexual appetite and that is within marriage. I know that is an old fashioned attitude in this day and time, but you can either live to please the flesh or you can live to please God. 

b. Uncleanness – Moral impurity. Doing things that dirty and pollute the soul life.

c. Inordinate Affections – Passions and intense arousals for things that are forbidden by God. This is a desire or craving for wrong things.

d. Evil Concupiscence – evil desire, a yearning and an aching for all kinds of evil. It is that within a person that pulls him to desire, grasp, grab, and take hold of all forms of evil that give pleasure to the body and its members.

e. Covetousness – Craving, grasping, grabbing, desiring to have something. It is desiring to have something when it is not needed; it is desiring more than what we need and more than what we should have. Note that covetousness is idolatry.

4. The secret lies in being able to reckon the flesh dead like God does – Rom. 6:11-14; 

Gal. 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

When we come to the place that we can look at our flesh and its lusts and remind it that it is dead to sin then, and only then, can we expect victory in our lives. 

We don’t crucify the flesh by gratifying it! You cannot feed every lust that enters your mind and claim to be living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. The flesh must die today! When tomorrow comes, it must die again. I must reckon it dead to sin and to the lust for sin! We are told to flee those things that tempt us – 2 Tim. 2:22.

5. It all boils down to whether or not you want to please the Lord by the life you live – Rom. 8:8 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

6. Thankfully, there will come a day when the battle with the flesh will end. One day, the Lord will deliver us from this vile flesh and we shall be changed to be like Him. You see, positionally, God says that our flesh is dead to sin. Practically speaking it can be, but only as we take the initiative to reckon it dead day by day. However, one day, we will be changed and we will be perfected by the power of God, 

Rom. 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

B. V. 30-35 Victory Is Preserved By Devotion – The Content. After the enemy had been eradicated and victory had been preserved, Israel finished by doing what the Lord had told them to do through Moses, Deut. 27:1-28:6. Half of the nation was to stand on Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerizim. The Levites were to stand in the valley between these mountains and were to read the cursings and the blessings. As they read the cursings, the crowd on Mount Ebal was to shout “Amen.” When they read the blessings, the crowd on Mount Gerizim was to shout “Amen.” This exercise was to remind them of what God would bless and of what He would not bless. They were reaffirming their commitment to live by the Word of God every day! So, in obedience to the command of the Lord, Israel made the 30 mile trips to these mountains and they stood there facing one another across that 2 mile wide valley. As the commandments were read, they shouted “Amen!” Imagine what that scene must have looked and sounded like that day! There’s was a devotion to living by the Word of God.

If we are to ever experience lasting victory over this flesh, then we too must learn to walk in the Word of God. It isn’t enough to fight the war with the flesh and hope to achieve the victory. If we are to win and preserve the victory day by day, then we must learn to live by the Word of God.

Victory Baptist Church 28 October 2020 victorypalmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

God’s Purpose for Us

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”   Psalm 138:8

This is going to sound harsh so hang with me until I’ve finished: Avoid relationships with people who do not value themselves.

Why would I say such an egocentric thing? I say it because a person incapable of valuing himself or herself is also incapable of valuing you. Build relationships with those who enhance you, not inhibit you; that stimulate your mind and put the wind beneath your wings. When we are around people like that we see our best qualities through their eyes and grow from the wisdom that falls from their lips.

When . . . you encounter someone who tries to tell you that you have nothing to offer, be sure to laugh because it is impolite to hear a joke and not laugh! When God finished His creation, including mankind, He said: “It was very good” (Genesis 1:31). So value God’s opinion and pay no attention to contrary opinions. You are full of such potential that the word possibility is written all over you. By God’s grace every one of us can be anything He desires us to be: God decided to give us life through the Word of Truth, so we might be the most important of all the things he made. (James 1:18 “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” ).

While we may regret our past, God is much more concerned with our future. God’s love for us is not based on our performance: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Our God invented second chances! Paul said that there has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish. (Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”). That attitude is what you want in those with whom you build your strongest relationships!

Today rejoice that God has brought you this far, and, if you will let Him, He will take you the rest of the way!

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

Walking In His Steps

Walking in His steps, our steps will be defined

He will lead us in our heart, soul, and mind;

Giving us direction with every step we take,

His love & care on us, He will never forsake.

Walking in His steps, we’ll see which way to go,

Answers to our questions, we will quickly know;

God says for us to ask, trust, and believe,

Then the blessing to that prayer we’ll receive.

Walking in His steps, life will be blessed with grace,

Things that come along are much easier to face;

Keeping our eyes on Him, our hand in His hand,

Makes life better to live and understand.

Walking in His steps will keep us close to His heart,

In sweet fellowship, He comes where we are;

When in His steps, we choose to live and walk,

It makes such a difference in how we act & talk!

Thanks

I want to thank all the good folks at Victory Baptist Church for making yesterday so special. It humbles me by all the things and comments.

I want to say that I am truly the one who is appreciative to everyone. In spite of all the health issues in the Church for you all to to anything is amazing.

Thanks, does not express my gratitude clear enough. I am blessed to be apart of such a warm and loving Church.

Thy Will Be Done

Praying, “Thy Will Be Done On Earth…”

Adrian Rogers

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name.” Matthew 6:9-10

When you pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done . . . on earth as it is in heaven” do you realize that this prayer has not yet been answered, but it will be answered?

Jesus Christ is literally, actually, visibly, bodily coming back to this earth. Do you believe that? Do you think that Jesus Christ would have taught us to pray this prayer if it would not have been answered?

His kingdom has not come yet on earth. His will is not being done on earth. But it shall be; it will be because our Lord taught us to pray that.

When you read or watch the news today, how do you see God’s will not being done on earth? Ask the Lord that His will would be brought to earth—praying for the people involved in each story for their welfare and their salvation.

From the messages of Adrian Rogers.© 2015 Used by permission of
Love Worth Finding Ministries
PO Box 38300  Memphis, TN 38183-0300

Equal

After saving England from Napoleon’s threats in 1815, the Duke of Wellington achieved hero status. One Sunday as the duke approached the altar for communion, a poor man from London’s streets, wearing rags, knelt beside him. The indignant minister whispered for the vagrant to move away. “Don’t you realize this is the great Duke of Wellington?” he asked.

When the duke overhead, he responded, “Leave him alone. We’re all the same here. The ground is level at the cross.”

That’s the spirit in which we celebrate World Communion Sunday on the first Sunday of October. Paul says believers share the Lord’s Supper by partaking of the “one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17). Everyone at the communion table is equal in God’s sight, needing his forgiveness and grace.

Pursuit

By Ricky Smith

Have you ever been in love? Think back on that initial moment when you knew this relationship was different. It’s alright. Give yourself permission to get sappy for a moment. I knew in February of 1995 that my girlfriend, Hilary, would one day be my wife. I knew then that this relationship was unique and that God was weaving our lives together.

Pexels Jeremy Wong 1043902

When we exchanged vows in November of 1996, we were forever bound in a covenant relationship with one another. I can honestly say that my love for her has grown and matured through joy and pain over these years. For this relationship to grow, it has required a mutual commitment to continually pursue one another.

We still send each other sappy text messages, or exchange gifts, or experience a dinner date (but I must confess not as often as we should). Today’s blog really is not about marriage, although I encourage you to continually pursue your mate. That being said, our earthly marriage is a biblically supported symbol of the relationship between Jesus and the Church, His bride.

1 Peter 2:4 begins with a significant challenge when it reads, “As you come…” This language and verb tense is a reminder for Jesus’ bride to continually come to Him. Purse Him. Chase Him.

In a similar fashion as I mentioned in my relationship with my wife, we as Jesus’ bride must continually and faithfully pursue Him by careful study of Word. We must continually align our conduct with His character. We must continually walk in unity as one race and one priesthood.

Imagine the impact one our world and the blessings for us individually when we live in continual pursuit of our love relationship with Christ. So much division that we see in our world would dissipate once the diverse landscape of Jesus’ church was seen to be walking in unison. Imagine the power that would be on display.

Imagine the energy that would be experienced in our worship gatherings if each individual represented in the body of believers has been chasing after Him through consuming Scripture already. I’d expect our worship would change and our preaching would even change.

Most of us have a tangible and relatable experience of love in our marriage and dating experiences. Allow your personal experience of pursuing another human to translate into a committed pursuit of a walk with God. He loves us. We love Him. Now let’s show it by our actions!

Bible Study

GOD’S PRESCRIPTION FOR AN ACHAN HEART Joshua 7:1-26

Israel has just been involved in the greatest military conquest in their history. They have just witnessed the tremendous defeat of the city of Jericho and they are still basking in the glow of that great event. But, verse 1 tells us that God was upset with the people. Israel thought that everything was all right. They thought that they were standing on the edge of a great string of victories that would see them conquering the entire land of promise. Yet, what they didn’t know was that there was a problem in the camp. There was one in their midst who was causing a problem for the entire family of God.

May I say that things are still the same today? Folk, we are all members of one body, 1 Cor. 12:27. According to the Bible, 1 Cor. 12:26, when one member of the body has problems, the entire body has problems. You see, your spiritual temperature has a deep effect on the entire body of Christ. You are not an island unto your self. What you do effects the entire church body. We will see this truth illustrated in this passage this morning.

Sin causes problems, it causes them for the sinner and for everyone else around them. The fact is, most of us are guilty of being like Achan from time to time. When we allow sin into our lives and when we try to hide our sins and try to cover it up, we bring pain and trouble into our lives. Yes, we are all Achans from time to time, and when we are, our sins causes aching in our lives. However, these verses tell us that God has a prescription for an Achan heart.

I. V. 2-5 A PAINFUL DEFEAT

A. V. 2-3 Israel Was A Confident People – Israel was still basking in the glow of their victory at Jericho and they looked at Ai and felt like that little town would be no problem for such a great army. Israel was a confident people, but a closer look reveals that their confidence was misplaced. In verse 3, they feel like that just a few of the soldiers are needed to secure a victory in little Ai. These people are guilty of resting on their laurels.

Israel did not realize it, but they were living through one of the most dangerous times of life. You see, the time just after a great spiritual victory is a dangerous time. Often, like Israel, we will be over confident and believe that we can handle any battle that comes our way, Pro. 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” When we believe like that, then is usually when we suffer our greatest defeats.

Now, don’t misunderstand, confidence is a good thing as long as one’s confidence is in the right place. When we are walking with our hope and our confidence in the Lord, we will win the victory, but when we are walking with our confidence in the power of our ability and in our flesh, then we are destined to fail!

Romans 8:5 “ For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

B. V. 4-5a Israel Was A Conquered People – When Israel went up to Ai in they suffered a terrible defeat and 36 of their number were killed. This must have been very devastating to the Israelites. However, when one takes the time to look more closely at their actions, it is easy to see that they made several mistakes. Mistakes that, many of us maybe guilty of making as well.

1. Nowhere in this passage does it even hint that Joshua and the people of Israel sought the will of God for dealing with Ai. They didn’t even pray about the matter. If they had, God would have revealed the problem before people died.

How many times are we guilty of jumping ahead of the Lord and His will? We will rush headlong into life and trust the Lord to bail us out of the messes in which we find ourselves. It is far better to consult God before we make the mistake than it is to expect Him to clean up our messes afterwards. James 4:2  ”….ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”

2. They didn’t take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. The Ark symbolized the presence and power of God. They went into the battle in their own strength and they failed!

Again, here is an area where we could all use help. We try to live the Christian life, fight the flesh and the devil in our own power and we fail time after time. The reason? We do not take the time to strengthen our walk with God! When we are walking with the Lord and in His Word as we should be, He will go with us into the battle and face our enemies on our behalf. Who killed the giant, David or God? David himself holds the answer to that question:

1 Sam. 17:47 “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.”  One person’s victory effects the whole church, just as one defeat.

3. Israel had their confidence in their own power and not in the Lord. They were not walking by faith, but they were guilty of trusting what they could do.

How many times have we suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy because we too believed we were able and that we could get the job done. Well, the bottom line is this: I can’t do the job and neither can you! We all need the Lord is we are to walk in spiritual victory in our lives, Phil. 4:13; 

John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

C. V. 5b Israel Was A Confounded People – After their terrible defeat at the hands of Ai, the people of Israel are feeling the same fear that their enemies experienced, Josh. 2:9; 5:1; 6:1. You see, this is one of the problems with sin. It defeats you and leaves you feeling just like a lost man. Nothing is right in the life of a believer while there is sin in his midst! Have you every had a time like this in your spiritual life? I have and most of the time, they result from those times when I have left God out of the picture in my life.

Israel didn’t know at this point what was wrong. All they knew was that they had just suffered their first defeat. Thankfully, God wants His people to have the victory, not the defeat. So, He takes the necessary steps to reveal to the nation of Israel just exactly where the problem lies.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

I. A Painful Defeat

II. V. 6-15 A PAINFUL DISCOVERY

A. V. 6-9 Joshua Reacts In Prayer – After the tragedy happens, Joshua finds himself before the Lord in prayer. His prayer is from a broken heart, v. 6. However, there is also a hint of anger and accusation against the Lord. Joshua is going to learn that prayer is the correct recourse in a time of trouble, but that prayer will avail nothing until sin has been dealt with, Ps. 66:18 “ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” 

Joshua wonders why Israel was powerless in the battle, the answer wasn’t to blame God, or to dispute His will. The answer was in their own camp!

After we have made decisions that brought with them terrible consequences, it’s too late to play the blame game. Also, it is never the right time to accuse God of anything. When there is a tragedy in our lives, we need to look within and see where the problem is. You see, when there is a lack of power in my life, the problem is not with God, nor is it with others, the problem is always with me! The same is true in the church. When there is defeat in the church and souls aren’t being saved and the services are dull and lifeless, we need not blame the Lord! He is doing His part. The problem is always a problem within! 

B. V. 10-15 God Rehearses The Problem – While Joshua and Israel try to figure out what is happening, God in Heaven already knows and tells Joshua all about it. He tells him that there is sin in the camp of Israel! He tells Joshua that it is this sin that is hindering His power and it is what is bringing about their defeat. He tells Joshua how to discover the guilty party. In these words to Joshua, God gives us some insights into sin, of which we need to take note. Allow me to share with you these seven observations concerning sin and its effects in our lives.

1. God knows about our sins – v. 11 

Pro. 15:3 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

2. God hates our sins – v. 11  Pro. 6:16 “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:”

3. God has a plan for our sins – v. 14-15 – (1 John 1:9) He wants us to acknowledge your sin is against Him.

4. God will punish our sins – v. 15 – Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.”

5. Sin affects those around us – v. 11-12 – We cannot sin in a vacuum, our sins have the ability to drastically lower the spiritual temperature of the church. We are all one body and what effects you effects me! 

Romans 5:12 “ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”

6. Sin hinders God’s work – v. 12 – Matt. 13:58 “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

7. Sin must be dealt with – v. 13 – Either you and I will deal with our sins, or God will deal with them. Either way, they will be handled! – 1 Cor. 11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”

Often, the greatest problems faced by the church come from within and not from without. You see, it’s not the water on the outside of the boat that causes the problem, it’s the water on the inside of the boat that causes trouble! The same is true for the church. The world and the devil really can’t do a lot of damage to the church, but you lat someone inside the church get out of line and there is a problem! More often than not, when there are defeats and trouble down at the house of God, you can bet that there is someone in the church who is out of God’s will!

Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

I. A Painful Defeat

II. A Painful Discovery

III. V. 16-26 A PAINFUL DEATH

In these verses, the wages of sin are put on clear display for all to see, Rom. 6:23.

A. V. 16-18 The Sinner Discovered – The process that God used to point out Achan. God knew who was guilty, why didn’t He just tell Joshua who they were looking for? In my opinion, He was giving Achan time to repent and to confess his sins. Be that as it may, the finger of God was getting closer and closer and finally landed on Achan.

The lesson for us needs to be learned well! God already knows your sins and His finger is getting closer and closer to your life. One day, He will point out those things in your life that need to be revealed! It is only a matter of time sir, Ma’am, young person until the finger of God lands on your life and you are exposed in your sins! It will not and cannot be hidden forever! One day, “your sin will find you out” –  Numbers 32:23

Luke 12:3 ”Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”  You may try, but you cannot hide your sin!

B. V. 19-21 The Sin Discussed – Now that the sin is out in the open it has to be dealt with. Notice the two aspects of this section.

1. V. 19 The Compassion – When Joshua speaks to Achan, he speaks with love in his heart. He knows that Achan is condemned, but Joshua still cares for this man who brought so much trouble to Israel.

In this, Joshua is a picture of God. While God hates sin with His entire being, He still loves the sinner, John 3:16. Even though man is the enemy of God, God still wants man to repent and to come to Him for salvation, 2 Pet. 3:9. 

2. V. 20-21 The Confession – In these two verses, Achan finally confesses his sin. However, don’t believe for a second that Achan repented! He, like some others in the Bible, only confessed his sins after he got caught in them. At this point, it would have been impossible to hide them any longer anyway. ( Achan is like other men in the Bible who confessed their sins, but not in real repentance – Pharaoh, Balaam, Judas.)

Note the progression in Achan’s sin, v. 21. “I saw…I coveted…I took.” This is the same pattern that sin always follows. It was this way in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 3:1-6. It was this way when David sinned with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:1-4. It is and will be this way in nearly any instance of sin you can name. Notice the progression that the Bible speaks of in James – James 1:13-15. You see it and it appeals to your flesh, you want it and you take it. Sin is always the same! Ill. Our reaction to sin should be just like that of Joseph, Gen. 39:12. We are commanded to flee youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22.

Another problem that Achan had is found in v. 21. Achan calls the things he took “spoils”. This word refers to the booty that a conquering army can claim after a victory. However, these things were no spoils. God said in 6:18-19 that these things were His. They were not to be gifts for Israel, they were to be placed in the treasury of the Lord’s house. In essence, Achan was guilty of stealing from the Lord.

Achan had things buried in his tent that he could not use! To use them would be to reveal his character to the entire nation of Israel. In other words, Achan sinned and died for nothing! The things he stole were no good to him at all!

C. V. 22-26 The Sinner Destroyed – These verses give us the sad conclusion to this tragic tale. Achan and all that he had were taken out and stones to death by the people of Israel. It didn’t have to end this way! However, these verses demonstrate the horrible end that all sinners who refuse to repent. The name of the valley is called “Achor”. This word means trouble. If you are going to sin, you need to know that you are headed for trouble, 

Pro. 13:15 “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”

Years later, the prophet Hosea mentioned this same valley. He said, “And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:15 

The promise is that this place of trouble could become a door of hope. The same is true concerning our sins.

Wade’s Wednesday

The Far-Reaching Rivers of Life

By Oswald Chambers

He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  John 7:38

A river reaches places which its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fullness, “rivers of living water” will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow— “This is the work of God, that you believe…” (John 6:29).

God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.

A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle.

Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it.

The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.

Think of the healing and far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up wonderful truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is another indication of the wider power of the river that He will flow through us.

If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has developed and nourished in you mighty, rushing rivers of blessing for others.