First Baptist Church of Hoquiam
Sunday Worship, February 26, 2023
  • I Will Follow
  • Glory Honor Power
  • Hosanna
  • I Stand In Awe
  • The Path Alone

    As I’ve been studying up to teach our Sunday School world religions class, I’ve been reminded once again of the importance of our own Christian history and heritage. There’s a very famous book written by a Christian by the name of John Buyan, titled “Pilgrim’s Progress” which I have a copy of here. This book has particular significance in Baptist history, as it was often the second book translated into other tribal languages by missionaries after only the Bible. If you have not read this book, I would highly encourage you to do so. There are few human writings so worthwhile, encouraging, and convicting to the soul as Bunyan’s book, which details the journeys of a man named Christian, who travels to the Celestial City. And as he journeys, Christian encounters various trials and difficulties in this life.
    One such predicament that Christian found himself trapped in was the slough of Despond. For those who do not speak Old English, a slough is just another word for a swamp, or a bog. Christian was traveling on the path to the Celestial city when he wandered into this swamp and could not get out because of the weight of his pack, which he was carrying upon his back. And no matter how hard he tried, he could not get up. He was stuck in the squelching torrid waters of the swamp. And it looked like all was lost and this is where Christian was going to end up on his journey.
    It wasn’t until an individual by the name of Help came along to lend a hand that Christian was able to escape the slough and pass through the wicker gate to continue on his journey.
    And if it weren’t for the assistance of Help, Christian would have still been in that swamp.
    It is terrible to travel the path of this life alone. If you are to fall into a bog, who would there be to help you out of it? Who would be there to point out the sin in your life, which weighs you down, or the extra burden of pride which you carry on your back? We all need assistance from time to time. We all need a helping hand.
    And as the Lord lifts you up from the quagmire of your life and you are set upon solid ground, you in turn are able to give a helping hand to others.
    And that brings us to the main idea of our sermon today

    Main Idea: As the Lord establishes you, you are to help establish others.

    Today we are continuing on in our sermon series on Deuteronomy. If you have your Bibles, please flip to Deuteronomy chapter 3. We’ll be reading from verses 18-22. Again, that’s Deuteronomy chapter 3, verses 18 to 22. And if you remember, Moses is recounting Israel’s history to the people of Israel. They are standing on the opposite side of the Jordan river, about to cross over into the land. Moses has just recapped the victories over king Og and king Bashan. And now their territory has been added to Israel’s. It was allotted to the tribe of Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh. But although a few of the tribes now have land, this passage calls the tribes of Reuben and Manasseh to leave behind what they just gained to help Israel conquer the rest promised land.
    It’s a very interesting thing to think about, why God would want these tribes to be involved in the conquest of the rest of the promised land. But it leads us to the important principle that even though the Lord has established us, we can still give help to establish others.
    So, without further ado, let us read from Deuteronomy 3, beginning in verse 18:
    Deuteronomy 3:18–22 ESV
    “And I commanded you at that time, saying, ‘The Lord your God has given you this land to possess. All your men of valor shall cross over armed before your brothers, the people of Israel. Only your wives, your little ones, and your livestock (I know that you have much livestock) shall remain in the cities that I have given you, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers, as to you, and they also occupy the land that the Lord your God gives them beyond the Jordan. Then each of you may return to his possession which I have given you.’ And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
    (Let us pray)
    This morning, I have three main points from this passage:
    The Lord is not done with you.
    As we help others, God’s glory is portrayed through us.
    As you live for the Lord, the Lord will bless you (even more).

    1. The Lord is not done with you.

    He still has instructions for you.
    For the Israelites here across the Jordan river, the instruction from the Lord is clear. This instruction is given only to a few of the tribes; The tribe of Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh. These were the peoples who were to inherit the land they were standing on, right then and there. The land they had just conquered from Sihon and Og. Their blessing was already present.
    You would think that they fought to earn their reward, and now that they have it they can enjoy it, right? Well, what is the Lord’s command?
    “Your men of honor shall cross over armed BEFORE your brothers.” The Hebrew word here means ahead of. They are to take lead in these battles that are to come. They are to be in the most danger.
    Boy, you would not want to be on the front lines of a battle. That’s the spot where you’re most at risk. Not only are these fighting men supposed to help the rest of Israel claim their own land, they are to go before their brothers.
    Yet the Lord’s instruction is clear they are to cross over the Jordan, take on the mantle of the older, responsible sibling, and be the Help that the rest of Israel needs.
    Christian: You may feel that the Lord has brought you to a good place— after all, you have financial stability, steady job, good marriage, you aren’t at war with anyone, and you’re enjoying the blessing the Lord has brought you to. Well, I have a word for you: The Lord is not done with you.
    In order to pull us out of complacency, the Lord calls us forward into action.
    Though we may be brought to a place of security and our feet are on dry ground thanks to the working of the gospel in our lives, there is still much work to be done. There are many out there who need Help. Christian, step into that role. Be the Help that those in the slough of despond desperately need. Be the portrayal of Christ’s love toward them. Live as the image God created you to be so that they might not perish in this quagmire, but might live by stepping up upon the solid ground that is Christ.
    After you die, what role will you be able to play in helping those who are struggling here on earth? Nothing. After you die you will be separated from your body and your soul will be with Christ and there will be nothing that you can do to help those who are in this wilderness. Why not bring water to help refresh the soul to those who are still struggling? Mature believer, there is so much you can teach those around you. Sure, the Lord has established you and set you on solid ground. Are you settled in, not knowing there is still work to be done? Arise. Go to the field. There is still yet work to do … not for your sake, but for others. Teach the younger generations. Assist those who are facing the fears of death. Give aid to those whose health is failing. (To give a few examples) but mainly, follow what the Lord gives direction through his Spirit to do.
    We all need that Help to get us through the world. And Christians are commanded to be that Help to each other:
    Romans 15:1–4 ESV
    We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
    Whatever was written in former days … through the encouragement we might have hope. What is the hope we draw from this passage in Deuteronomy? Is it not the same message here in Romans 15? To help one another. To bear with the failings of the weak. To not settle in and please ourselves, but to follow the command of the Lord in the spiritual battle that he wages against this world. God instructed the Israelites to help one another, even though he had already established some of them. The promised land was not yet inherited. And there are parallels here to how we live: There are those in this world who still need your help, even though you have been established in your faith and have been given your portion of the promised land which we await: the kingdom of heaven. Be the Help that the Lord has called you to be. And no matter where you are on your Christian walk, until your final breath stops you can still be an encouragement, an aid, to other believers.
    So, Christian, the Lord is not done with you. Be a Help to others.

    2. As we Help others, God’s glory is portrayed through us.

    God’s glory was portrayed through the men of Reuben and Manasseh as they passed over and fought the kingdoms. They brought God’s righteous judgment upon the people of the land through divine warfare, so that all the world would know who is the God of Israel: A living and powerful God, the same God that brought the plagues upon Egypt. This same God would lead his people into miraculous victory, time and time again, as they took instruction from him.
    We read about this in verse 21:
    Deuteronomy 3:21 ESV
    And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. So will the Lord do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing.
    Imagine if the tribes from across the Jordan river had not come to help out. I’m sure the Lord would have still provided the victory. It may have been more strained and tedious. There would be a rift and divide between Israel, resentment toward the “brothers” who never came to help out. And the other tribes would have missed out on the work of the Lord as the Lord was leading Joshua.
    Next week, we’ll look at God’s instruction to Moses to enter the promised land. Moses wanted to enter because of the miraculous work that God was doing. What God was doing here was exciting! Even to a man who was 120 years old. It was something you didn’t want to miss out on. Moses wanted to see God at work, accomplishing victory after victory through his people. In fact, the instruction to Joshua was what we see in verse 22:
    Deuteronomy 3:22 ESV
    You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.’
    It is the Lord who fights for you. God is the one who is promising the victory. What an exciting thing to see. God is not some distant, far off king who has no interest in this world. He is engaged in the very battles that we wage. And for the people of Israel, victory was promised.
    And it’s the same situation with us: Christ has already promised us the victory. We take God’s word on that one. But we get to see the battles unfold: the lives that are won to Christ, the victories that the Lord accomplishes through his Holy Spirit as humans are saved by faith and their souls are made alive. There’s exciting work going on in this world even here, even now. Who cares what’s going on in politics! Who cares what the newest movie or game release is! Do you not see that the Lord is at work, in spite of how unsteady and unstable our world is? God is working his victory in the world, and his glory is being made known through the transformed lives of those who once lived for themselves but who now live for the praise of the great King.
    And note the beginning part of that verse: you SHALL NOT FEAR.
    Fear can often hold us down and keep us back from the victories which the Lord has promised. Whether it’s fear of the battle, or fear of our own sin and shame and the questioning of our own strength. In Revelation it is not the courageous who are thrown into the fiery pit of sulfur, but the cowardly. Fear keeps us back from accomplishing what the Lord has called us to partake in. Christian, as you see your friend struggling with fear, will you bolster their spirits and encourage them toward good works and toward partaking in the battle of the Lord? Cast that fear aside. Lean into the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace, that you may be lifted and set upon the solid rock that is Christ. For in Christ there is perfect love, and perfect love casts out all fear! May we be fearless, and may we make every effort to bolster courage within the family of Christ as the day of our Lord approaches.
    If my words are not enough to convince you, maybe the divine scripture, which has been given to us by our Lord, will:
    Romans 15:5–6 ESV
    May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    May we take up the mantle of Help to assist others so that we can all glorify the Lord together.
    God’s glory will be seen through both your actions and through the praise of the one who was helped.
    God’s glory was displayed through the people of Israel. Fast forward through the conquering of the promised land and to the end, after all was accomplished:
    Joshua 21:43–45 ESV
    Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.
    God’s power defeated the enemies. God’s words rang true. And God brought blessing to the people of Israel. Peace on every side, victory over their enemies, numerous descendants, land filled with milk and flowing honey. In the spoils of victory, the Lord’s glory is displayed.
    Christian, through our acts of help and kindness toward others, the glory of Christ is displayed.
    Remember how Christ himself was humble, and washed the disciples feet by taking the attitude of a servant? He then commanded his disciples, Christians, to do the same.
    Galatians 6:2 ESV
    Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
    And as the law of Christ is fulfilled, glory will be given to God.
    Luke 6:38 ESV
    give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
    As you apply a salve of healing to others, as you reach out a hand of strength to help your brother or sister up so that they can stand on solid ground, the Lord will return his blessing to you. And that leads us to our third point:

    3. As you live for the Lord, the Lord will bless you. (even more)

    After the land was conquered, and after the Reubenites and the half tribe of Manasseh had fought for the people of Israel, they came home with a blessing and much wealth.
    Joshua 22:7–8 ESV
    Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given a possession in Bashan, but to the other half Joshua had given a possession beside their brothers in the land west of the Jordan. And when Joshua sent them away to their homes and blessed them, he said to them, “Go back to your tents with much wealth and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, and iron, and with much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.”
    Not only had they won the land for their brethren and had strengthened the bond of the tribes of Israel, they had also gained much wealth, in terms of sheep and cattle and silver and gold and bronze and fine clothing.
    The Lord sees what you do: whether ill or good. And as a fair and just judge, he will reward you accordingly. To those who follow his instructions and his commands, a reward shall be given.
    Do you remember the parable Jesus taught of the sheep and the goats?
    Matthew 25:31–40 ESV
    “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
    Eternal life shall be given to the one who follows in the footsteps of Christ by trusting in him for faith: and these actions of faith as they are lived out are helps, providing clothing to “the least of these my brothers”, giving food and drink; welcoming others in; visiting the sick and those in prison.
    There is a strong need for mercy ministries within the people of God. We have a strong need at this church to expand these kinds of ministries. Maybe the Lord has gifted you for that very thing, to take a lead here at this church in visiting those who are sick and who are no longer able to come in-person. Often this responsibility is placed upon the pastor and is expected of him, but it is a call to all believers, all Christians. It’s not just pastors who will stand before the Lord on judgment day to inherit eternal life, but all of you as well. Will you not follow in Christ’s footsteps and be a servant for others? There is a promised blessing and reward for you from the Lord, despite the extra costs it may take to provide support for your brother or sister.
    As you live for the Lord, the Lord will add increase to you.
    So I have two concluding reflections:

    Who will you help?

    Who will you help?
    God has granted each of us families of our own, friends of our own, spheres of influence that no one else has. We can impact lives in ways that no other person is capable of. And the call to give help to your brother or sister resides first here (point at heart) with you.
    So who will you help?
    Even as we ask this question, it brightens my heart to see many of you already asking this question: Who can I help, how can I help, where and when can we start? Those are good questions to ask. It shows the Lord’s work in your life, that he has changed your motives and desires within your heart to focus not on yourselves but on the needs of those around you. It’s the heart shared within the membership at this church: that we came not to be served but to serve. Even on Sunday mornings, we are here to serve each other. And through our acts of service, the love of the Lord is displayed.
    Let us continually look outward toward the needs of others and provide to them what the Lord has granted us the strength to provide. And may we increase in our helps toward others as we consider who we can help.

    Will you ask for help?

    Will you ask for help?
    Remember the slough of despond that I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon? How we often find ourselves sinking into despondency, a place of hopelessness and despair from the circumstances we wade into? If we do not cry out for help, how will one know that we are sinking in a swamp? If you are in need, cry out for help so that an ear may hear you.
    This particular reflection is the one I probably struggle with the most. Ever since I was a child my motto has been, “I can do this all by myself.” Perhaps it’s still the presence of pride in me saying “No, I can do this on my own” even when I am in the swamp of my own devices. Yes, I could probably make my own way in time with the help of the Lord. But it would be much faster if Help came in the form of a brother or sister in Christ, and we journeyed out together. And maybe you’re like me, that you like to do things your own way, even if that way gets tougher and tougher. But my instruction is this: Put to death the pride that is within you and learn to ask for help. We all need help from the Lord, and there is reasonable help to be had from one another.
    The Lord has commanded that as each has a need, let the body of Christ supply it for each other. Would you rob your brother or sister the joy of partaking in the work of the Lord? Would you rob the Lord of his victory in your life? Recognizing that we are in need of help outside of ourselves is one of the bedrocks to the Christian faith. Let us practice this humility in our lives by learning to ask for aid when we are in need.
    And sometimes our needs aren’t always physical. There are emotional needs and spiritual needs for which we need counseling. We want to supply that for you here at FBC. As the Lord has shepherded and tended our own souls through the application of his word, let us show you how to do the same. But reach out and ask for help if you are in distress or in need.


    Our sermon series is titled “Changing Times and Our Unchanging God’. Truly, he is unchanging. Though we face uncertain times here in our own country, and we seem to be trapped in a bog in our own personal lives with increased pressures from the world around us, The Lord is steadfast and sure. He is the solid ground upon which we can walk, thanks to the forgiveness of Christ. Through him we have an inheritance that rust cannot destroy and that thieves cannot steal from us. But it is promised to us by our God, who knows us and who works for us.
    Those who are in Christ have been settled with their inheritance in the promised land. But that does not exclude them from the call to be a Help to those still in need. Christ’s provision for you is the greatest help there ever is and ever will be. He has pulled you from the slough of despond and set your feet upon solid ground. Will you now help others to do the same?
    Let us pray.
      • Deuteronomy 3:18–22ESV

      • Romans 15:1–4ESV

      • Deuteronomy 3:21ESV

      • Deuteronomy 3:22ESV

      • Romans 15:5–6ESV

      • Joshua 21:43–45ESV

      • Galatians 6:2ESV

      • Luke 6:38ESV

      • Joshua 22:7–8ESV

      • Matthew 25:31–40ESV