Bible Study

HOW TO MAKE YOUR WALLS FALL Josh. 6:1-21

Israel has finally crossed the Jordan. They have prepared themselves spiritually and they have, thus far, followed God’s orders to the letter. Now, they are ready to begin the conquest of the Promised Land. They are ready to claim for themselves the land that flowed with milk and honey. However, like most things in life that are worth having, it wouldn’t come cheap!

For Israel, Jericho would be a benchmark. It was at Jericho that they would flex their muscles and experience military victory and conquest. Now, just for a moment, try to put yourself into the shoes of the average Israelite soldier. For most of these men, Jericho was the first city they had ever seen that was surrounded by huge walls. It must have looked like and absolute impossibility. However, they listened to the instructions they were given by the Lord and they saw those massive walls fall down flat.

It is my opinion that the book of Joshua is very relevant to today’s Christians. Folk, we are living in days of battle and spiritual struggle. We need to know how to fight. We need to know that our God is able to give the victory. We need to know how to follow Him to that victory. Joshua teaches us those valuable lessons!

Just as Israel faced the formidable walls of Jericho, you and I face walls and obstacles in our lives as well. We need to know how to over come them as we march towards the victory. This passage holds that answer for us today.

I. v.1 ISRAEL HAD A PROBLEM

A. Jericho is known as the oldest city in the world, in Joshua’s day, it was surrounded by a system of two massive stone walls. The outer wall was 6 ft. thick and about 20 ft. high. The inner wall was about 12 ft. thick and was 30 ft. high. Between the walls was a guarded walkway about 15 ft. wide. Israel’s problem was that they had a city to conquer, but there were some extremely huge walls in the way.

B. As we go through life, we have obstacles that we face as well. Perhaps it is a lost loved one we would like to see the Lord touch and save, a lost community over which we are burdened, a ministry from the Lord that we feel inadequate about, family trouble that tears at our hearts and leaves us wondering what to do, financial trouble that stresses us to the limits of our patience and faith, a besetting sin that constantly crops us in our life, or any of other a million things!

C. We must learn not to look upon our obstacles as dead-ends, but as opportunities for the Lord to work in our lives!

The Apostle Paul had such an obstacle – 2 Cor. 12:7-10 – This attitude is foreign to us today. Yet, we must come to realize that the power of God is best revealed in and through us when we are unable to handle life. God is more clearly visible when we are totally out of the picture! In a sense, that is what He did with Israel here. As we will see, He completely removed them from the equation! The victory at Jericho was all God!

I. Israel Had A Problem

II. v.2 ISRAEL HAD A PROMISE

A. As Joshua and all the men of war stood looking at those walls around that great city, God had a word of comfort for their hearts! Here, God promises Israel the victory before they ever attack Jericho! He lets them know about the conclusion before they ever enter into their battle!

B. As we face our obstacles, whatever they may be we can do so with confidence, because we have the Lord’s promises as banners to march under:

1. We Have His Promise That Our Weapons Are Powerful Through God – 2 Cor. 10:4-5.

2. We Have His Promise That Our Battles Have All Been Arranged By The Lord – Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17.

3. We Have His Promise That Our Ability Is Limited Only By Our Faith – Phil. 4:13; Eph. 3:20.

4. We Have His Promise Of Power In The Day Of Battle – Eph. 6:10.

5. We Have His Promise Of Ongoing Victory – 1 Cor. 15:57.

6. We Have His Promise That We Will Never Fight Alone – Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20.

7. We Have His Promise That When The Battles Are Ended, We will Celebrate The Victory In His Presence – John 14:1-3.

C. As we face the walled cities in our lives, we need to learn to believe the Lord, to take Him at His Word and trust Him for our victories! (Rom. 4:21; 2 Cor. 1:20)

Jesus did not save you for you to be defeated! He saved you for the victory and He will be there all the way to help you secure it for His glory! Will there be trials? But, there will also be victory – Luke 22:31-32.

I. Israel Had A Problem

II. Israel Had A Promise

III. v.3-5 ISRAEL HAD A PARTNER

A. Israel’s partner was none other than God Himself! He was in absolute control of the battle, He was leading them, and He was the guarantee of their victory!

The visit of the Captain of the Lord’s Host – Josh. 5:13-15. Remember that He came to tell Joshua that He did not come to take sides, He came to take over!

B. As we face our walled cities and the obstacles of our lives, it is a blessing to know that we do not have to face them alone, Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5, or in our own strength, John 16:13; Phil. 4:13!

C. No obstacle is insurmountable as long as we face it in the Lord!

Look at the weapons we have been given to fight the battles.

1. The Word of God – You and I have been blessed by the Lord in that He has given us a perfect, inspired, infallible, inerrant record of His Word. The Word of God is called the “logos”. This word speaks of the entirety of the revealed word of God. It speaks of your Bible. When Paul was listing the armor that is to be worn by the saints as they battle the enemy, he mentions the one offensive weapon we have and that is the Word of God, Eph. 6:17. You see, the Bible is like a vast armory. In this armory there are weapons of every description. They have been specifically designed to fight particular battles. It is interesting to note that when Paul mentions the Word fo God as a weapon of spiritual warfare, He does not use the word “logos”. He, instead, uses the word “rhema”. This word means a particular Word of God. If we continue to think of the Bible as an armory filled with swords of all descriptions, then the “rhema” would be a particular sword for a particular battle. This truth is illustrated by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Mount of Temptation. When the devil tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread, Jesus responded by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Here, Jesus also used the word “rhema”. Each time the devil attacked our Lord, Jesus walked into the armory of the Word of God and chose just the right sword for each attack. Each time, Jesus went into the Deuteronomy section of the armory and carefully selected just the right sword He need to stick the devil.

The same principle will work for you and me! God has a word for what you are facing. However, if you don’t know your way around the armory, then you will not be able to select the right sword. It is imperative that we learn this Book so that when the day of battle arises, we will be able to grab the right sword and vanquish our enemies!

2. Prayer – Far too often we ignore the great power that has been given to us in prayer! Prayer is far more than me just taking my grocery list to the Lord and reading it off. Prayer is my entering into a conversation with the God of the universe. I speak to Him and He speaks to me. I am able to tell Him about what is on my heart and He is able to tell me what is on His heart. Prayer has the ability to get things done! You see, we have been given some pretty awesome promises in the arena of prayer.

A. God has promised that He will hear our prayers – Jer. 33:3; Isa. 65:24.

B. God has promised that He will answer our prayers – John 14:13-14; 1 John 5:14-15.

C. God has promised that He will help us pray – Rom. 8:26-27.  Essentially all true prayer begins with God. He speaks to our hearts and we offer the prayer He lead us to pray back up unto Him. This is the way to pray in the will of the Father!

The power of our prayers – J. Sidlow Baxter – “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our argument, but they are helpless against our prayers!” (Hannah, Samson, Elijah, Elisha, Abraham, etc. Thank God, prayer has the potential to change any situation! It is sad, however, that prayer is given such a minor role in the modern church. The old fashioned prayer meeting has gone the way of the horse and buggy. But, those churches and individuals who have held onto the promises, power and the practice of prayer are seeing their walled cities conquered!

I. Israel Had A Problem

II. Israel Had A Promise

III. Israel Had A Partner

IV. v.6-21 ISRAEL PREVAILED

A. The context. Israel marched around the city in obedience to the Lord and they prevailed! 

The absurdity of the command! Can you imagine how the people in Jericho must have reacted? They saw the armies of Israel approaching their city and they probably thought that they were about to be invaded by the enemy. Then, just as Israel came near the city, they turned and began to march around the walls. I can see those inside Jericho as they ran to see where the Israelites would mount their attack. However, instead of attacking, the soldiers, and the priests merely marched around the city one time. All that was heard was the sound of the ram’s horn trumpets and the pounding of the soldier’s feet upon the ground. This was repeated for 6 days. By this time, the people in Jericho were no doubt mocking and jeering the Israelites. Then on the seventh day, they compassed the city seven times. When they had finished that seventh lap, the priests gave a long blast on the trumpets and the people of Israel shouted with a great shout! It wasn’t the shout of an attacking army, it wasn’t a shout of fear, but it was a shout raised in praise to their God Who had promised them the victory. When the people shouted, the walls fell down flat and Israel ran into the city and utterly destroyed it. It was a great victory!

B. There are some reasons why Israel experienced victory at Jericho:

1. They had a Word from God – (v.2-6) 2 Tim. 2:15; John 16:13

2. They believed God – (v.8-20) God said it, that settled it! Do we really believe God? Mark 11:22; Matt. 21:21-22!

3. They acted in faith – ( Heb. 11:1; 11:6) (I John 5:14-15, James 1:8)

4. They did it God’s way – (This is the secret to success!) His way may seem too hard, too slow, or as in this case too foolish, but His way is always the best way! (Isa. 55:8-9)

5. God gave them the victory – (v.20-21)

C. God’s church will prevail, Matt. 16:18; God’s people will prevail! You can prevail in whatever situation you are facing right now! Take a lesson from Israel, God has promised us the victory – 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 4:17; 1 John 5:4

What kind of walled city are you facing right now? Does it appear to be unconquerable? Do the walls look too high and do they appear too thick? Does it seem that victory is absolutely impossible in your case? Let me remind you that if your walls haven’t already fallen down flat, they can! They can fall right now! You need to take a lesson from Israel and start handling your Jericho’s God’s way. 

Victory Baptist Church 14 October 2020 victorypalmetto.com

Wade’s Wednesday

From Mourning to Dancing

By Amy Boucher Pye

God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache.

“We’re cutting your job.”

A decade ago those words sent me reeling when the company I worked for eliminated my position. At the time, I felt shattered, partly because my identity was so intertwined with my role as editor. Recently I felt a similar sadness when I heard that my freelance job was ending. But this time I didn’t feel rocked at my foundation, because over the years I have seen God’s faithfulness and how He can turn my mourning to joy.

Though we live in a fallen world where we experience pain and disappointment, the Lord can move us from despair to rejoicing, as we see in Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming of Jesus—He has sent me . . . to bestow on [those who grieve] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning. Isaiah 61:1, 3.

The Lord gives us hope when we feel hopeless; He helps us to forgive when we think we can’t; He teaches us that our identity is in Him and not in what we do. He gives us courage to face an unknown future. When we wear the rags of “ashes,” He gently gives us a coat of praise.

When we face loss, we shouldn’t run from the sadness, but neither do we want to become bitter or hardened. When we think about God’s faithfulness over the years, we know that He’s willing and able to turn our grief to dancing once again—to give us sufficient grace in this life and full joy in heaven.

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

It’s Amazing To See
It’s amazing to see how God works in our lives,
How man’s plan, He can openly defy;
It doesn’t matter how things are planned out,
The way God does it will make you sing & shout!
It’s amazing to see, the riches God bestows,
The actions of the day, from God, we truly know;
If we seek Him from the heart as Lord & Master,
We’ll see victory & peace instead of disaster!
It’s amazing to see, God’s grace at its best,
His love, on our heart, He freely manifests;
He watches over us when we worry & fret,
Seeing God at work is what you never forget!
It’s amazing to see, God’s great, wonderful grace,
Many blessings are ours, if He comes on the place;
There are so many sweet gifts our heart will see,
When God’s people pray together from bended knee!
                                                            

Other Side

One of the great bonuses of being a Christian is the great hope that extends beyond the grave into the glory of God’s tomorrow.

A little girl was running toward a cemetery as the darkness of evening began to fall. She passed a friend who asked her if she was not afraid to go through the graveyard at night.

“Oh, no,” she said, “I’m not afraid. My home is just on the other side!”

We Christians are not afraid of the night of death because our heavenly home is “just on the other side.”

The resurrection of Christ changed the midnight of bereavement into a sunrise of reunion; it changed the midnight of disappointment into a sunrise of joy; it changed the midnight of fear to a sunrise of peace. Today faith and confidence in the resurrected Christ can change your fear to hope and your disappointment to joy.

Prayer for the day: Whatever I fear the most, Lord Jesus, I put into Your loving hands, knowing You will give me peace and courage.

Taken from Day by Day with Billy Graham

Set Apart

By Max Lucado

In the third century, St. Cyprian wrote to a friend named Donatus:

“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden under the shadow of these vines. But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out over the wide lands, you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds, under all roofs misery and selfishness. It really is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet, in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people. They have discovered a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of this sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians…and I am one of them.” (Max Lucado study bible; Gordon Macdonald, Forging a Realworld Faith)

The troubles throughout the world, with our own daily burdens, can depress our spirits and destroy our happiness. But people who have obeyed the gospel of Christ and are truly living the Christian life have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

The fifth chapter of Galations tells us that . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galations 5:22-26).

Scars and Successes

By Ricky Smith

A few months back, I was clearing a small area of land in my backyard, with the hope of planting some wildflowers and clover for my bees. The things we do for honey! Anyway, when I began to move the dirt, I found an old and rusted horseshoe. Fascinated at my discovery, my mind began to creatively imagine the story of this horseshoe. It didn’t get here on its own. Was it part of a farm in the past or perhaps a war relic? There is no way to tell, but it does cause me to reflect on the power of a journey and the story each journey can share.

Horseshoe

1 Peter begins with a direct encouragement to a group of believers who were on a journey of dispersion. Being displaced and navigating the trials of being a stranger in a foreign land, they were reminded of the hope found in Christ and the confidence that comes from knowing God’s plan can be trusted.

His foreknowledge should be a reminder for them not to doubt. He is not surprised by their journey and promised to guard and keep them. This truth does not only apply to the dispersed believers intended to receive this letter from Peter. 

You may feel that you are alone and may doubt your current circumstances. Trust that God is not surprised by your current situation; in fact, He knows what will happen tomorrow. You can trust Him! He desires to grow and mature you in order to point others to Him as you share your story of joyful hope. 

When people look at your life, will your scars and successes tell a story of trust in an all-knowing and never changing God? Shout it from the mountain tops today as you share this living hope with others, and may it resound for the sake of the Gospel.

Friday Funnies

A family of hillbillys were staying in a high-rise hotel for the first time. There was a big brass elevator right off of the lobby. The mother and daughter stared at it in amazement, wondering what it was. After staring at it in awe for a few minutes the girl looked up at her mom, “Ma, what do you reckon that there thing is?” she asked.”I don’t rightly know, girl,” the mother replied.

Just then an old, frumpy man in a robe with messy hair walks up, steps in the elevator and the doors shut behind him. After a few seconds the doors opened again and a handsome, muscular young man in tight work-out clothes walks out.

The mother leans over to her daughter and says, “Girl, go and get your Pa!”

* * *

A lady lost her purse while shopping. It was found by an honest little boy and returned to her. She looked in the purse and discovered that something was different. “That’s odd,” she commented. When I lost my bag there was a $100 bill in it. Now there are 100 $1 bills.”

The boy quickly replied, “That’s right, ma’am. The last time I found a lady’s purse she didn’t have any change for a reward.”

* * *

A lady had just totaled her car in a horrific accident. Miraculously, she managed to pry herself from the wreckage without a scratch. When the state trooper arrived he was astonished that she had survived.

“My goodness!” the trooper gasped. “Your car looks like an accordion that was stomped on by an elephant. Are you okay, ma’am?”

“Why, yes, officer, I’m just fine.”

“Well, how in the world did this happen?”, he asked as he surveyed the wrecked car.

“Officer, it was the strangest thing! I was driving along this road when I started to doze off. When I woke up this tree from out of nowhere pops up in front of me. So I swerved to the right, and there was another tree! I swerved to the left and there was another tree! I swerved to the right and there was another tree! I swerved to the left and there was….”

“Uh, ma’am,” the officer said, “There isn’t a tree on this road for 30 miles. That was your air freshener swinging back and forth on your rear view mirror.”

Bible Study

THE LEADER MEETS THE LORD Joshua 5:13-15

Many in our day do not remember the name of the fame of Sergeant Alvin C. York York was the most famous soldier of World War I. Many people do not know that Alvin York single-handedly captured 132 German soldiers one day in France. York was the recipient of many great honors from several nations for his bravery in combat.

However, Alvin C. York was a most unlikely man to become a legendary hero. York felt that his Christian faith barred him from killing anyone, even in war. After being drafted, York made it known that he was a conscientious objector; that he would not be able to kill other men. He was sent home on a ten-day leave to think about his situation and to consider the scriptures a Christian captain had shared with him. York was promised that he would be dismissed from the Army if he still felt the same way when he returned.

Finally in a crisis of faith, God showed York that he could obey God and defend the helpless in Europe at the same time. He wrote, “As I prayed there alone… I knew that He was there. He understood I didn’t want to be a fighter or a killing man… He took pity on me and gave me the assurance I needed… It was His will and that was enough for me.” Sgt. York had to win the war in his mind before he could win the battles that lay ahead of him in the trenches of France.  Alvin York had to yield to the Lordship of God in his life before he would ever become a great war hero. The same truth is seen in this passage. Israel is about to attack the city of Jericho. Before that battle, the leader of Israel, Joshua, goes out to inspect the site of the coming battle. On that important day, Joshua came face to face with the real leader of Israel. He had an encounter with One Who was far more powerful than he was.

  That day, outside the walled city of Jericho, the leader meets the Lord. When he did, Joshua was humbled, but he was also prepared for the battle that lay ahead. It may be that the Lord will use this passage to speak to our hearts. It may be that He will remind us Who is in control of the situations we face in life. It may be that we will come to realize that no one is qualified to lead who has not first learned to serve. It may be that He will remind us of the necessity of humbling ourselves at His feet. If we would enjoy real spiritual victory in our lives, we must come to understand Who really fights our battle. 

 I.  V. 13  THE IMAGE OF A SHEPHERD

As these verses open, we find Joshua, the leader of the people of Israel, all alone outside the walls of Jericho. I think it would be to our benefit to consider just what Joshua is doing out there all by himself.

A.  The Shepherd’s Burden – Joshua was the leader of the people. God Himself had chosen him for that position. When the Lord called Joshua to lead Israel, the Lord gave Joshua some very precious promises. In Joshua 1:5, the Lord said the following to Joshua, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

  It was on the basis of this great promise that Joshua had assumed the leadership role in Israel. Now, he has led them over Jordan. He has led them in obedience to the Law of the Lord. He has led them in observing the Passover. He has led them to the place where they are ready to begin their battle for the land of Canaan.

  On the eve of the battle, Joshua goes out to look at the city they are about to attack: the great walled city of Jericho. There can be little doubt the reason he is out there, partially to consider the defenses of the city and to formulate a plan of attack.

Joshua is the leader of a couple of million men, women and children. Every decision he makes will affect the people under his leadership in profound ways. Some will die, others will be injured, families will be torn apart, and lives will be altered based on the decisions Joshua makes. Before those decisions are made, Joshua goes out alone, under the weight of the burden of his office, to seek counsel from the Lord.

In verse 13, the text says, “…he lifted up his eyes, and looked.” This seems to imply that Joshua has his head bowed and his eyes closed in prayer. It seems to me that this man recognizes the terrible burden that rests on his shoulders, and that he is seeking the Lord’s help to make the right decisions for himself and for the Lord’s people.

Anyone who has ever filled a position of leadership knows, to some degree, how Joshua must have felt. The decisions you make in your life will affect the lives of those in your circle of friends and family. 

Leadership always comes with great responsibility. There is the responsibility to seek the will of the Lord in every matter you face. There is the responsibility to make decisions that honor God above feelings. There is the responsibility to do everything with the understanding that every decision is like tossing a pebble into a pond. There are ripples from every decision you make. When a Christian fails, a testimony fails.

  Sometimes people will understand your motives; other times they will not. At the end of the day, it does not matter what people think; all that matters is what the Lord thinks. Because we will face Him, and not them, with the decisions we make in life. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God,” Rom. 14:12.

Consider the following passages.

·      1 Cor. 4:1 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

·      2 Cor. 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

B.  The Shepherd’s Bravery – As Joshua meditates and contemplates the upcoming battle, he sees an unidentified man standing nearby with his sward drawn. This is the posture of battle. It is the picture of a man who is ready for a fight. Joshua does not hesitate, but he approaches the man and demands to know which side the man is on. Is he on the side of Jericho? Or, is he on the side of Israel?  When Joshua first sees this man, he identifies his as a possible threat to Israel. His instincts as a shepherd are aroused and steps up to the defense of his people. Joshua is burdened by the weight of leadership, but he is also consumed with the protection of those under his care.

That same characteristic marks true leaders, regardless of the area of their leadership. The husband who will not defend this wife, or the father who will not defend his children is not much of a man. The mother who will not defend her children is not much of a woman.

  We are living a time when the church, our doctrines, our Bible, our worship, and all the other things that identify us as the Lord’s people, are under attack. We are living in days when the family, the institution of marriage, and our children are under assault. We need men and women who are not afraid to stand up and fight for the things that matter. We need people who are not ashamed to take a stand against the rising tide of evil and ungodliness. We need people who will stand for the Lord to protect their church, their family and their community from all those who wish to destroy it.

God’s command to His people is this: Eph. 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,” 

Some things in this life are worth fighting for! The church is worth fighting for. The truth is worth fighting for! Integrity and obedience to the will of God are worth fighting for! Marriage, the family, and our children are worth fighting for! If this present generation does not grow a backbone and learn to take a stand against the encroachment of evil, we will have very little to pass on to the next generation. It’s time for God’s people to take a stand!

 1Peter 5:2 “Feed the flock of God which is among you,”

I.  The Image Of A Shepherd

II.  V. 13-14  THE IMAGE OF SOVEREIGNTY

While there is an image of a shepherd in this passage, there is also the image of Sovereign Lord. This text reveals the problems, perils and pitfalls of leadership, but it also draws our attention to the idea of lordship. Even though Joshua was the leader of the people, he himself was under the lordship of God Almighty.

These verses identify and clarify the person and the power of the One Joshua encountered outside Jericho that day.

A.  The Lord’s Posture – When Joshua encounters this man, He is said to be standing, “with His sword drawn in His hand.” It is the picture of a Person ready for battle. This is not the image of some passive observer of events. This is the image of Someone Who is ready to make something happen. It is the image of man Who has come ready for a fight. It is the image of someone Who is ready to take on the enemy.

I would just remind you today that God does not react to events that take place in our human world. He is not sitting in Heaven waiting to see what we will do first, so that He can decide how to respond. No, He is in control of both the actions and the reactions. He already knows what we are going to do, and He has already made His plans accordingly.

·      Isa. 46:9-11 – “9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” 

·      Eph. 1:11, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

·      Psa 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.”

·      Dan 4:3, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

These verses, and others, make it clear that our God is in control of all the affairs of life. He is always ready, in every situation, because He has decreed all events that come to pass. That is why He is never surprised by life. We are often surprised by the various turns in the road of life. God is never caught off guard. He never has to resort to “Plan B.” He never has to alter His will. He is never left at a loss as to what to do, because He is God and He is ever in control of all things!

B.  The Lord’s Position – When Joshua encounters this man, Joshua does not know who he is, so he asks Him. Joshua asks, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” The man’s answer must have taken Joshua by surprise. The man says, “Nay; but as the captain of the Lord’s host am I now come.” In other words, the man answers Joshua by saying, “I did not come to take sides in this battle; I came to take over.”

His answer tells us exactly Who this Man is. It is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of the Lord. This is not the first time He appeared in this world, and this will not be the last time He appears either.

·      He appeared to Hagar, Gen. 16:7-14; Gen. 21:16-20

·      He appeared to Abraham, Gen.18:10

·      He appeared to Jacob, Gen. 28:12-15; Gen. 32:24-30

·      He appeared to Moses, Exod. 3:4-5; Exod. 23:20; Exod. 33:22

·      He appeared to Gideon, Judg. 6:11-24

·      He appeared to Isaiah, Isa. 6:1-13

·      He appeared to three young Hebrews in the fiery furnace, Dan. 3:24-25

·      He appeared to Daniel, Dan. 6:21-22; Dan. 7:13-14; Dan. 10:5-6

·      He appeared to the prophet Zechariah, Zech. 1:8-13; 2:8-11; 3:10; 6:12-15

It must have encouraged Joshua to realize that he was not alone. There is a certain loneliness in leadership that can be discouraging and depressing when you consider how much impact your decisions have on others. Harry Truman once said, “To be President of the United States is to be lonely, very lonely at times of great decisions.” Surely Joshua felt that same sense of being alone. What a comfort it must have been to him to know that God, Who had promised to be with Joshua, Josh. 1:5, 9, had kept that promise! Joshua was not alone; the Lord was with Him!

By the way, that is a promise He intends to keep to you too. He has promised you that He will ever be with you as you face the ups and downs of your life, Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5. The same Lord Who stepped out of eternity to move in the lives of His people in the past, is the same God Who intends to do the same thing for you. You are not alone; the Lord is with you!

C.  The Lord’s Power – The Lord identifies Himself as “the captain of the host of the Lord.” That is, Joshua could not see, but there was a vast army of heavenly warriors camped about him, ready to take on the people of Canaan. The implication is clear: Israel would not face their enemies alone; they would face them aided by the armies of Heaven. Joshua now receives the assurance that the Lord is about to this battle and that victory is assured.

There is a spiritual realm around us that we cannot see. In that hidden spiritual dimension, there are angels and there are demons. Those spiritual beings are continually waging war in the battle of good against evil. That invisible host aided Elisha, 2 Kings 6:14-17. That invisible host struck fear into the hearts of the Assyrian army, 2 Kings 7:5-7. That invisible host protected the city of Jerusalem and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night, 2 Kings 19:35.

The same power that came to the aid of Israel in Jericho, and the same power that came to the aid of Israel time and again, is the same power that surrounds you today. Our Lord is still the Captain of the Lord’s host and He still fights battles on behalf of His people.

All these truths serve to remind us that our God is a sovereign God. That simply means that He is in control of all things, of all people, at all times. He is the Lord both time and eternity. He is in charge and he can be trusted to take care of you!

  I.  The Image Of A Shepherd

 II.  The Image Of  Sovereignty

III.  V. 14-15  THE IMAGE OF A SERVANT

When Joshua realizes just Who is standing before him, he assumes the place of a servant before the Lord. Joshua’s attitude toward the Lord has much to teach us about how we should approach the Lord as well.

A.  The Servant’s Humility – Joshua realizes that he is face to face with the Lord Himself, and he falls down before the Lord to “worship” Him. Joshua exalts the Lord and acknowledges His position by bowing at His feet. This is an indication that Joshua is submitting to the will of the Lord and that he knows Who is in control. Then, Joshua wants to now what the Lord would have him to do. He is yielding his role as leader to the Lord. He is assuming the place of a servant before a Master. In an instant, General Joshua falls before the Commander-in-chief and yields all authority and power to Him. A crucial step on the road to victory is learning to relinquish leadership to the will of the Lord! The leader had to bow to true leadership. The one who commanded the people had to held to the One Who commanded Him!

You see, before you can have the victory, you must be vanquished. Before you can conquer, you must first be conquered! Many today need to do just what Joshua did right here. Many need to lay down their swords at the feet of the Captain of the Lord’s host; surrender their pride and yield to His authority!

That is the Lord’s will for all His children.

·      1 Pet. 5:5b-7, “5b…God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

·      Matt. 23:11-12, “11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

We are all under authority. Ultimately, we are all under the authority of the Lord. He is our Commander, and His will is what matters most of all. Whether we are leaders or followers, we are all the servants of the Lord. We must all find ourselves at His feet, humbly submitting ourselves to His will. Whatever that will may be!

B.  The Servant’s Honesty – The Lord makes a strange demand of Joshua in verse 15. Joshua is commanded to “Loose thy show from off thy foot.” Why did the Lord just ask for one shoe? The answer lies in ancient custom. When a covenant was made between two individuals, in which one person possessed power to keep the covenant and the other didn’t, the weaker individual handed the other individual one of his shoes. It was his way of saying, “I can’t, but you can.” This is seen in the book of Ruth 4:6-8.

For Joshua, this was a challenge for him to come to the place where he could admit his own weakness and inability to gain the victory. It was a call for him to surrender to the Lord. 

For us, we need to learn the truth that we can’t, but He can! There are some people here and you have been trying to fight your battles in your own power. You keep getting whipped. You need to draw off your shoe, hand it to God and say, “Lord, I can’t fight these battles, but you can! I can’t win the victories I need in my life, but you can!” What I am saying is that we need to come to the place of absolute surrender! To that place where we and all we have are at the feet of God. To the place where we are willing to say, once for all, “I can’t Lord, but You can!”

This is a very unusual situation! Joshua is a warrior, right? When he bowed before the Lord, he placed himself in a vulnerable position. He exposed his neck. He placed himself in a position where he could not use his own sword. He placed himself in a position of extreme weakness. He was totally yielded to the Lord! Live or die, he placed his all in the hand of the Lord.

Have you ever come to that place in your own life? Have you ever come to the place where you placed yourself and your sword on the ground before the Lord and surrendered fully to His will for your life? If not, you will have to do just that if you will ever enjoy absolute victory over all the strongholds and enemies in your life.

The sooner we reach the place where we understand that we lack any power to accomplish anything, the sooner we will be to rely on the power of God in our lives. The sooner we learn the truth of John 15:5, which says, “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,” the sooner we can lay down our sword and humble ourselves at His feet.

As long as you demand your rights, your will and your way, you will have problems. When you yield to His rights, His power, and His will, you are on the fast track to victory!

Who is Lord in your life? Are you totally yielded to the Lord, or do you really call the shots? Who is your master? You or Him? If it is you, prepare for a life of pain, sorrow and suffering. If it is Him, there will still be battles, but you will be firmly on the road to victory!

Conc: Romans 12:1-2 sums up the gist of what I am trying to say about yielding to the Lord. It says, “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Wade’s Wednesday

For the Sake of Christ

By Ricky Smith

Values should drive our actions. Because of my walk with Christ, I have always prioritized gathering for worship with fellow believers. While in college, I actually was fired for a job because I refused to work on Sunday. I was not willing to compromise this value because it was rooted in my faith, and if the consequence was a loss of job, then that was a consequence that I was willing to endure. While not to the extreme of my life being threatened, this was a personal experience of persecution.

Pexels Craig Lloyd 3993513

I’ve never had a gun held to my head and been threatened to die or denounce God. Have you? Many have truly had their life threatened because of their faith in Jesus. I pray for my brothers and sisters who daily face threats of death and celebrate their courage to shine brightly for Christ. Furthermore, there is a strong likelihood that in my lifetime, there will be a day in America where I will face that level of threat in my life. If so, I have already resolved in my heart that the cross of Jesus is worth dying for. 

The badge of honor worth dying for is not a matter of my personal preferences or political persuasions. Matthew 5:10-12 encourages a fortunate blessing for those who are persecuted for the sake of Christ. It is the righteousness of Christ that must be defended. It is the righteousness of Christ that must be on display in our life, and others will take notice.

1 Corinthians 1:18 reminds us that the Good News of Christ is foolishness to those who have rejected this glorious hope. When you display the glory of God in your life, you will experience rejection. Take joy in that trial. As you mature in your perseverance, you continue to display the hope of Christ for the world to see. We join in prayer that they will see our good actions and we will deflect them to see our Father in Heaven. Whether we live or die, it is for His glory!

Tuesday With Karen

by Karen Icenhour

When Your Heart Needs A Hug

When your heart needs a hug, His arms are open wide,
Extended to you always with love and care inside;
All you need to do is come to Him in prayer,
He’ll hear every word, for He’s already there.

When your heart needs a hug, speak to the Lord again,
There is nothing sweeter than words from a Faithful Friend;
The Lord says everything we need to hear or know,
He’s the Best Friend we’ll have upon this earth below.

When your heart needs a hug, He’s waiting to give an embrace,
With comfort from His love, & strength from His grace;
He knows what you’re feeling, no matter where you are,
He’ll keep you within the safety of His arms.

When your heart needs a hug, go to the Lord anytime,
He gives the sweetest peace you will ever find;
So when life’s trials & heartaches are more than enough,
The Lord’s arms are waiting to give you a hug!