Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Sunday, June 5
  • The Lion And The Lamb
  • Trust In You
  • Raise A Hallelujah
  • Reckless Love
  • 5 Jun 22
    Hold Tight
    Joshua 23 – 6th book of the Bible
    Darlene was supposed to preach this morning, but her family has Covid, so I’m pinch-hitting.
    Context to Joshua – the setting is between 1500 and 1200 BC. Moses brought Israel out of Egypt - he led them in the wilderness for 40 years. After Moses passed away, Joshua was appointed the leader and he led Israel into the Promised land – Canaan – where Israel conquered many nations - not large nations – but smaller tribal nations that lived in Canaan.
    If you don't understand the cultural and spiritual context, this part of the Bible can be a little problematic. Why would a loving God do something like that? This is a big topic, not where we're heading this morning but just so you get the gist of it, God was not asking Israel to conquer the world, but rather a small geographical area in which lived these nations that were evil, brutal, sacrificing children to demons, highly influenced by the demonic, worshipped gods (spiritual beings) that were extremely rebellious against God, and many of these nations were descendants of the Nephilim (giants from Gen. 6). Not where we’re going this morning but understand this – these nations were evil and needed stopped – much like the Nazis of WWII, they needed stopped and the only way to stop was to conquer – defeat them.
    Now, Israel is in the Promised Land – haven’t conquered all of it yet, still a large portion to take – but they’re having a little respite …
    Joshua 23:1–3 NLT
    The years passed, and the Lord had given the people of Israel rest from all their enemies. Joshua, who was now very old, called together all the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. He said to them, “I am now a very old man. You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies.
    What does it mean that God fights for us? Does that mean I don't have to fight? Does that mean if God is fighting for me then life should be easy – everything goes my way? And if life is not easy does that mean God is not fighting for me?
    If you think about Israel, who did the fighting? Israel. They carried their shields, they picked up their swords, they marched from city to city and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. They put in years of blood, sweat, and tears. So, how can Joshua say God fought for you? How can we say that to one another?
    Now the way I see it, Israel did the visible physical fighting? I would include the emotional and spiritual elements as well – they had to control thoughts, pray …. But God did the invisible fighting that they could not see. It was God who enabled or empowered them to win the battles the battles they fought.
    I wonder how many times God fights for us, but we just don’t see it or recognize all that He does. I want to encourage you this morning ….
    I was thinking about the soldiers – even though they knew Go was on their side, I wonder how many times they wondered, “Where's God?” Think about it – yes, they were winning, but how many times did they feel exhausted from the battle. How many times were they hungry, or thirsty, or the headaches, injuries, the sore muscles, and the mental images of the gore of war …. Battle after battle, even though you’re winning still wears on you. How many times did they feel like quitting – wishing this would just be over. When is this going to end! “If God is really for us, then why do we have to do all this?” I’m sure a lot of them had those kinds of questions along the way.
    Been there?
    Think about it - they were God’s people – spiritual people – empowered by the Spirit of Almighty God. But they were also human. And humans have all kinds of emotions, ask all kinds of questions, face all kinds of adversity – including God’s people, including Spirit-filled people. I'm reading a book written for pastors, and the author Wayne Cordeiro said this, “We don't forget were Christian, but we forget we’re human.” And humans can get tired, and they get weak, and they get scared, and they can wonder where God is even when He is fighting for them.
    I imagine that all kinds of questions went through their minds along the way – before and after a battle. They were human. Just because our humanness shoes up in the battle, doesn’t necessarily mean we lack faith. And that's one reason why throughout the book of Joshua we read the words “be strong and very courageous, don’t be afraid” over and over and over.
    If you’re in the battle, whatever it may be, don’t forget you’re human. Be strong and courageous – don’t quit.
    So, what does it mean that God fights for us? I have found most often it means that God calls me to be involved in the fight. He wants me to have some skin in the game. In other words, I have my part, my battles to engage in, and God has His – and He’s faithful to do His part …. And looking back you can see God was there, God gave us victory – but there’s no victory without a battle, without of fight. Example?
    But here’s the thing – prolonged battles can be exhausting, tiring, can wear you down, so what do we do when we’re feeling the weight, the pressure to quit, to toss in the towel …?
    Joshua 23:4–5 NLT
    I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.
    So, what’s going on here? Joshua is saying, “I know you’re all tired. I know you want to quit. I know you just want this to be over, but we’re not done. There are more battles yet to be fought.”
    I know some here are tired – tired of the crazy, tired of the world, tired of … but it’s not over. Not over in the grand scheme of redemption –people still need Jesus. It’s not over for the Church. It’s not over for some of your battles … so keep fighting – dig deep.
    God does promise victory – He promised victory to Israel, “He’s going to keep fighting for you and give you the rest of the land, but,” there is a stipulation here -
    Joshua 23:6 NLT
    “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left.
    That was Joshua speaking to the leaders of Israel regarding the Old Covenant, and of course we have the New Covenant in Christ, even so, the principle is the same – be very careful to follow the Instructions of God. Now is not a time for complacency. Now is not the time to compromise the Word of God. Now is not a time to shrink back from the truths of Scripture. Don’t let your guard down, and it’s easy to do when you’re tired and worn out from the battle.
    Don’t know what your battle is – marriage, finances, children … worst thing to do is compromise the Word of God. When you’re tired and start compromising … (lowering shields), giving in here and there … all those enemies you spent all that time fighting … take advantage of you. Do not deviate from the Word. The word is going to work on you …
    Joshua 23:7–8 NLT
    Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.
    Cling – hold firmly or tenaciously. Cling tight to Jesus. Hold on for dear life – even if it’s by a thread.
    Rather than giving you 5 ways to cling to Jesus, I have some closing questions.
    List three things that help you cling to Jesus.
    How often are these a part of your life?
    Name two people who help you cling to Jesus.
    Name two people you help cling to Jesus.
    What might be loosening your grip on Jesus?
    What do your answers reveal?
    Do you know what it means to cling to Jesus?
    Romans 3:23–24 NLT
    For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
    Philippians 3:17–4:1 NLT
    Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
      • Joshua 23:1–3NIV2011

      • Joshua 23:4–5NIV2011

      • Joshua 23:6NIV2011

      • Joshua 23:7–8NIV2011

      • Philippians 3:17–4:1NIV2011

      • Romans 5:1–11NIV2011

  • I Am Not Alone
  • Song

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