Joshua: go and trust

Preached on: Sunday 18th April 2021
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. there is no Powerpoint pdf accompanying this sermon..
Bible references: Joshua 2:1-19
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Before we come to our message this morning let’s come to God in prayer let us pray

father God we come to you now and we ask that indeed these words of scripture might indeed encourage and lead us in our lives as we continue through this time just as you led the Israelites through and eventually into the promised land we know that you will encourage and lead us to that place too within the meantime encourage us by this message and let your spirit indeed fill all our lives as indeed we look as to what more we can and should be doing as we journey through our lives with you in Jesus name we ask amen

in the previous chapter that we had um last week from Scott God had promised Joshua and the Israelites the land and he said that in verse 1 3 that everywhere you set their foot they would have victory so now in this next chapter Joshua gets busy he secretly sends a couple of people to spy out the land especially this great city of Jericho you may remember that Joshua had gone as part of a part of um a spy mission earlier when indeed 12 spies were sent out to go into the promised land to come and report back 10 of those spies came back reporting about the fears they had of entering that land but Joshua and indeed Caleb too both returned full of praise and full of hope to enter the promised land knowing that God would go with them during that time my bible doesn’t say anything about God telling Joshua to send more spies in and indeed didn’t God just promise in the chapter before to give Joshua the whole land then why did he see the need to send in the spies does that display a lack of trust on josh’s part a sort of taking matters into his own hands kind of thing why didn’t he just trust God rest on the promises and march across the river Jordan and claim that land

the questions become even more relevant if we sneak a peek ahead into chapters five and six where we have the story of the fall of Jericho remember how the city falls into the hands of the Israelites they take the city simply by marching around it for seven days and then God miraculously tears down the walls at a shout yeah simply a shout of the Israelite army God had a plan for the fall of Jericho he knew how it was going to happen so why bother with this whole spy thing they obviously weren’t going to need detailed reconnaissance on the military readiness of the people of Jericho why send spies if God was going to do a miracle even worse isn’t it this whole spy thing contrary to the very nature of what it means to trust God isn’t it an example of Joshua acting on his own strengths rather than in Gods

to answer those questions this morning we need to know what the response of God was to josh’s actions was Joshua rebuked punished for not believing chastised for not simply trusting no not at all in fact and this is fascinating God says nothing in this chapter this morning he has lots to say in chapter one and much more to say in three four five and six in all those places we read and the lord said to Joshua but here it just says Joshua secretly sent two spies obviously God was not upset at Joshua or there definitely would have been consequences as we’ll see when we get into chapter 7. in fact there’s a wonderful result to this spy story and that’s the meeting of rehab and having her become a celebrated woman of faith seeing all her family saved and indeed through that family and through that lineage it came right down indeed to the father to the lineage of Jesus Christ himself

so obviously God blessed josh’s actions and God worked through those actions even though God had a different plan for taking the city

here’s the lesson i see for you and i this morning

sometimes it’s okay for us to get busy and do the things that make the most sense I’ve known people who wanted to walk with God they wanted obedient to God they wanted God to take to be in control and so they would even pray about very minor things and attempt to discern God’s will for which pair of socks to put on that morning i believe that God gave us the ability to make decisions and we often take that and run with it and we try to make all the decisions ourselves without involving God in our daily lives and that so often is what goes wrong

but it’s also wrong to never make decisions that leads to disobedience for example if God tells us to go in one direction and then we sit around waiting for him to tell us whether to walk or run or take the bus obviously wearing our mask and end up staying in the same place we disobeyed God’s call to go sometimes all he tells us is to go and he leaves the method of travel up to us to decide

here’s what i want to say trusting God means that we wait on him for guidance and direction and leadership it also means that we get going in the direction that he points us in

let me give you an example most times when i sit down at my computer to work on a sermon i pray i ask God to speak to me to show me what he wants to reveal to me and to us through his word sometimes i sit there and pray waiting for all those great revelations to come flooding into my mind but most of the time that doesn’t happen maybe some of you agree with me on that most of the time the ideas and the revelations start to flow as a right in fact I’m a bit concerned this morning about the writing and the time because I’ve tried to move a bit with technology I’ve got my paper copy here but I’m using the tablet but the sermon is actually 35 pages long on a tablet a lot more than the usual 10. so you see trusting in God does mean waiting for his direction and then starting to head in that direction with trust and that’s what we see here this morning in the second chapter of Joshua even though God had a different plan for taking Jericho Joshua was not wrong in sending the spies it wasn’t an indication of a lack of trust or a lack of faith it was the right thing to do God surprised them with a different ending but God also honored Joshua for doing the smart thing by sending in the spies he was getting a handle on what was happening in Jericho right at that time

sometimes in life we get stuck we get in a wrap we feel like we’re spinning our wheels we’re discouraged and down and going nowhere maybe that’s how you’re feeling about life today that you are kind of stuck i suppose for a while we all have been stuck at home and we look forward perhaps to getting out and about a wee bit more and traveling that bit further distance but if you’re stuck in a rat in any other way because you don’t know where to go or you’re stuck because you do know where to go but you’re waiting for something else to happen before you’re going to head that direction if you don’t know where to go then you need to pray and seek God’s guidance wait a little while and let go and listen to him

and on the other hand if you’re stuck but you do know which way you should be headed get going get moving make the necessary decisions stop waiting for each piece of the puzzle to fall into place before taking those early steps just get moving and God will lead the Israelites as we know had been stuck at this place before 40 years earlier they knew which way to go under Moses but got scared and retreated and this time around they still know which way to go and by the way it’s still the same direction if they go but this time they get a little extra encouragement from the report of the spies

the lord has surely given the whole land into our hands all the people are melting in fear because of us says verse 24. that was just the added bit of confidence that they needed and maybe that is the added bit of encouragement that you need today God has it under control he knows the hardness he knows the pitfalls he knows the obstacles and he’s bigger than all of them

you will find sufficient on that journey you will find him abundantly able to meet the needs as you go along the road this is the big message trusting in God in God waiting on him getting direction and then using our minds and our gifts and as long as we head out in that direction in his strength and not on our own as long as we continue to trust him along the way and even make those mid-course corrections we can be confident with trusting him and walking in his power and not our own there’s one other point i want to get out of this passage this morning and that is that God goes ahead of us Joshua does the smart thing sends the spies in they go to the house of a prostitute most likely because it was a place where the foreigners wouldn’t arise a lot of suspicion and whether we’d be able to get a handle on what the people were thinking and what they find there is miraculous somehow word gets out to the king and he sends in his henchmen so much for those secret undercover agents but here is where the story gets interesting because rehab that very prostitute hides them she lies for them she sends the king’s men off on a wild goose chase and protects them and gives them the information they need provides an escape route and what happens in return she and all her family have their life spared and rehab takes a very prominent place in the history of Israel and in Christianity because of our faith

here is what this tells me God goes ahead of me and not only does he go ahead of me preparing the way he prepares the hearts of people he reveals his fame he reveals his glory and he goes ahead of each one of us

those spies found God at work in the most unlikely place in the faith of Rahab and applying this to sharing our own faith we often look at the prospect of having to share our faith with some trepidation like we’re making a further foreign into enemy territory we don’t want to cross the lines and share our faith in the unknown perhaps with those who live beside us in the street work beside us or even our relatives or close friends we head into those situations feeling like it is our God job to take God to people to take it to those who don’t know him and there is this big dark land and we have the light and we must take it into this very dangerous place but this spy story this morning reminds us God is already ahead of us we aren’t going in carrying him along with us he’s beginning to make a start and his spirit is possibly working and prodding and pursuing in these lives that we are going to meet sharing our faith isn’t only about bringing people to salvation that’s the final step in the process and of course it’s a final step and a person’s growth to faith but there are lots of steps lots of steps to go lots of things to do words deeds expression and love lots more to do when we can meet with those people that perhaps are coming to God through this time lots more when we can share with them here in this place of fellowship God’s ahead of us but look out for those opportunities look out for those people that you can speak to and you can share God goes ahead he prepares away and he has all sorts of things prepared for us he writes to the Ephesians in chapter 2 10 he says for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do the way is prepared Joshua is sure he has God with him and yet he sends some men before him he didn’t quite trust the situation but then things sorted himself out

where has God been or is going to call you to go what’s he been telling you that you need to be obedient about if you’re feeling stuck if you’re uncertain about which direction to head or how to get started be encouraged that God goes with you and God goes ahead of you he’s prepared the road he knows where our journey is going and he knows what we need the promise of God is that he has prepared for us a great kingdom which he desires us to experience here in this life as well as in the next it’s a kingdom of joy and freedom and of power God invites you and me to experience this kingdom through his holy spirit and i encourage each of us to take some steps to do the things that make sense and pursue a more fulfilling experience in God’s kingdom in our lives so that we can continue to see God’s kingdom come to those others around us that will also share and benefit in that

Amen

Joshua: respond

Preached on: Sunday 11th April 2021
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 21-04-11 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Joshua 1:1-16
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Let us take a moment to pray before we think about God’s word:

Come Holy Spirit, have your own way. Change our hearts and minds to be more like Jesus.
Come Holy Spirit, shape us as the church of Jesus.
Come Holy Spirit with power and deep conviction.
for we ask it in Jesus name, Amen.

As I said before our reading the opening portion of the book of Joshua finds the people of God at the beginning of a new chapter Moses has died and gone to be with the lord before his death he wrote down the law of God enabling Israel to know the ways of the lord so that the promises of God could be fulfilled with Moses departure a new chapter begins and in many ways it foreshadows what the disciples would experience with Jesus after the resurrection in Matthew chapter 28 we read this the Holy Spirit and teaching them to be everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age hopefully we remember from last week that when the angel came and spoke to the woman and then through the women to the disciples the instruction was that they were to go to galilee and there Jesus would meet them well here they are they’ve responded in faith and they meet with Jesus for sure for some there is doubt still but they all worship Jesus as the risen lord and into that doubt into this group of people Jesus speaks he begins a new chapter these two moments in the history of God’s people echo one another and in doing so they show us what to pay attention to what to draw from the opening chapter of Joshua that it might speak into our day because we as followers of Jesus as members of his church we too are given the same commission as those early disciples so what are we to pay attention to well firstly we are to respond to God’s word the lord says to Joshua now then you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I am about to give them I will give you every place where you set your foot now then get ready these words carry drive impetus in the original language their commands to be put into practice and similarly Jesus says go and make go and make again these words are weighty they are strong they are urgent calling us to be about this rather than put it off it’s interesting that Joshua is also told that wherever they set their feet this will become home to them but here’s the thing it will only become home if they set out if they get actively involved if they cross into the promised land

in both Joshua’s time and in Jesus commission to the church God’s people are called to respond to God’s word because if we don’t

then his calling and commission is not fulfilled as he intended and there’s no plan b friends you and I here in the sanctuary and at home we are it it is through us that God intends for others to come into his family and into his kingdom just a few weeks ago I was reminding us of the drastic fall in church membership over the last 20 years a fall which it could be asked does it show our apathy to our commission or that we have become comfortable with our ineffectiveness and so once again I effectively ask you have you had enough of decline enough so that we do something about it that we recognize that we all have a part to play and it must include some way somehow the sharing of our faith with today’s generation because the people who seem to be coming to church staying at church getting involved with church are people who choose to identify as Christian who choose to follow Jesus but people don’t reach that stage if they’re not first hearing about the Christian faith and so they must hear it some way somehow

and so I ask you here and you at home do you hear the personal call to respond and own this commission to own it to say it is mine it is mine

Joshua was called to respond and to ensure that he would know how to put God’s word into practice the lord says to him be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you do not turn to it from the right or to the left keep it always on your lips similarly Jesus says that part of raising up disciples is teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you not only are we called to respond to God’s word we are called to know it to chew over and to do so in community

we are called to this because Jesus is not after people who know some nice stories or can recite some of his nice morals Jesus says that a disciple is someone who knows his lord’s teaching and knows it well enough that they put it into practice

so I wonder friends what’s the way that you are engaging with God’s word maybe you’re using the new testament reading plan or an app like Lectio365 or Pray as You Go maybe you use printed daily reading notes no matter your preference though if we are to be a people who confidently share our faith such that we raise up new disciples we need to know our faith and the scriptures that underpin it

Joshua was a man of God a person who knew God’s word and put it into practice and so his next step is to speak to the leaders and to the people so that what the lord had commanded would be put into practice but what I find really striking here is what he says to the Reubenites Gaditzen halftribe of Manasseh he says your wives or children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan but all your fighting men ready for battle must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites you’re to help them until the lord gives them rest as he has done for you and I find that remarkable because these tribes these fighting men are called to leave their security their safety leave what is precious to them and rest their lives in fact they’ve to go ahead of their fellow Israelites never mind tag along at the back where do you think you would prefer to be at the back not the front and I think for me this shows that God calls us to a way of life where we stand alongside one another a way of life where we cannot be indifferent to the welfare of one another now Jesus does not mention this explicitly at the time of the great commission but let’s remember only ten days before he had taught them this command love one another as I have loved you so you must love one another by this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another

care for others to the point of sacrifice is meant to distinguish us we cannot claim to be following the teaching of Jesus and remain indifferent to one another so what could this look like what could this look like well this summer there’s an opportunity for us all it’s my intention that from June to august there will be no Tuesday evening events and that’s to give us time to connect and reconnect with one another however i’m conscious that because of covet and because we’re a medium-sized church it’s easy for people to be overlooked or maybe even forgotten because we haven’t seen them in over a year and so we need a vehicle to care for as many as possible and a vehicle which also allows as many as are willing to get involved and so this week you will be sent a letter via email or post and in that letter you will be asked whether you are willing for your name address and phone number to be shared with the other members of your pastoral grouping this would then allow each of us to get in contact or do a card and visit or send a card do something and over the summer hopefully reconnect as a church family and if you’re not in a pastor or grouping then get in touch if you want to get involved because please note this only those who opt in will have their details shared and only those who opt in will receive details of others who have also opted in so if you don’t opt in your details will not be shared so let’s not worry but neither will you receive details and we’re sharing this just now because hopefully as many of us will get involved as possible and it then just takes time to put that into place additionally I would like to encourage you to read a book that I’ve been reading it’s Francis Chan’s Letters to the Church and i’d like you to try and read it over June to august because that’s less than one chapter a week i’ve been found in it both stimulating and easy to read much easier than the book I gave to the elders okay but it gets us into God’s word chewing it over and understanding some of what it means to be the church you can of course order a copy for yourself but if you would find it helpful for us to order your copy then give it out simply on the reply slip with the letter let us know there’s space to make that known to us okay friends if we respond I’m excited about what the summer could hold for us I reconnected church family who are chewing upon God’s word and responding to it such that we are better enabled to fulfill the commission given to us but before the end there’s one final thing one final thing ultimately it’s not our unity or our obedience or our knowledge which will enable us to fulfill our commission it’s that the lord is with us for he says to Joshua as I was with Moses so I will be with you I will never leave you nor forsake you be strong and courageous to not be afraid for the lord your God will be with you wherever you go and similarly Jesus promises surely I am with you always to the very end of the age friends our calling is momentous sometimes risky surely self-sacrificing and humanly impossible but the lord promises to be with us in the times of Joshua in the times of the early church and even still today as I said last week Jesus is leading us onward and so it is his presence his faithfulness that gives us true courage as well as the love and power to respond to his commission

and to be a people united and living out his command

I pray it may be so, Amen