Paul Davis, President of ABWE rejoins the Calvary family this weekend for an impactful message to end our 2018 Mission Conference: ON MISSION.
Living as the Church: Grace and Peace
1 Thessalonians 1:1
Pastor Trent Broussard
The Church at Thessalonica was established by Paul on his second missionary journey, which is chronicled in Acts 16-18:22. Paul’s pattern was to go into a new area and preach Christ in the synagogue to the local Jews. In this city, there were converts of both Jews and Greeks, and Luke particularly mentions a number of influential women. As is also the pattern, the Jews, especially the synagogue leaders, were jealous of Paul’s success and sought to have him stopped. Paul was sent out of town branded a trouble-maker, but the seed of the church had been planted.
The recipient is the church of the Thessalonians. In other letters, the church isn’t always addressed directly.
Paul’s address here is to the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike his letters to the Corinthians, Paul refers to the church at Thessalonica as being in God and not of God. He not only calls them the church in God, but in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is uncommon for Paul as he uses the phrases “in God” or “in Christ” very specifically i.e. rejoicing in God (Rom. 5:11) or hidden in God (Eph 3:9). “In Christ,” when used by Paul, generally has an incorporative force, pointing to believers’ participation in Christ’s life or their membership in His body. This is a weighty reference that some scholars believe is intended to communicate that the church is brought into being by God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It bears witness to the exalted place of Christ and communicates that the Father and the Son are active in the work of salvation and sanctification.
Peace was the normal Jewish greeting, while rejoice was the normal Greek greeting. Paul uses grace and peace as a standard greeting and these words point to both the power and activity of the gospel. Grace and peace only come through Christ. It is the power of the gospel that reconciles wicked man to God. Earlier we sang:
Grace and peace, oh how can this be
For lawbreakers and thieves, for the worthless, the least
You have said that our judgment is death
For all eternity, without hope, without rest
Oh, what an amazing mystery, what an amazing mystery
That your grace has come to me.
What’s so amazing about grace is that we do not deserve it. We deserve death, hell, and eternal separation from Christ. Instead we have been given life, peace, and eternity with Christ. How did we get grace and peace? Christ suffered and died in our place. He was condemned for us. He took our sins and our sorrows, as the hymn-writer tells us, and made them his very own. He bore the burden to Calvary and suffered and died alone.
Christ suffered the penalty for our sin so we don’t have to pay it. It doesn’t matter how vile a sinner you are, it doesn’t matter how wicked you have been, it doesn’t matter how long you have walked in your sin, Jesus’ death on the cross in your place is sufficient to pay for your sin. This is grace; this is the gospel. And what is peace? Peace is a return to the relationship between God and man in the Garden before the fall. The Garden was a kind of temple where God walked with man in beautiful fellowship. True peace is having beautiful fellowship with God.
Over the next few months, we are going to study this letter to the Thessalonians and observe what real Christianity looks like in a church. The Thessalonians were a model church. They got it right. Paul’s letter is full of commendation and not condemnation. We will see what they got right and how Paul encourages them to deepen their walk with Christ and grow in their fellowship. As we walk through a season of transition and search for a new pastor, it is my prayer that we will grow deeply in our walk with Christ and our love for both Christ and one another.
During this season of transition, we need to be praying for our church, for our new lead pastor, and for our team who has been tasked with discerning the Lord’s will for Calvary. I want to invite you to join me and any of our staff who are available, to gather every Thursday from 12:15-12:45 p.m. to pray. It will not be a long prayer meeting, but I believe the Lord would have us sacrifice time to pray and seek His will. If you cannot join us here, pray where you are.
Have you experienced the grace and peace of God? Have you heard His calling on your life? If the Lord is drawing you to Him, do not wait to respond. Come to Him in your brokenness, with your flaws and every imperfection, and allow Him to transform your life. If He is calling you, put your trust in Him today.
Our Mission: Being and Making
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Calvary Baptist Church
Pastor Ben Marshall
Change causes us to give up comfort for the sake of some goal other than comfort. One pastor has said, “Churches that love their method more than their mission will die.” This morning we are going to talk about mission. Methods will come and go; methods will change. Mission is the one thing that we must be tied to. It sets the course, or the direction, moving forward.
Our mission, passionately pursuing Christ, lovingly pursuing others for Christ, summed up in one word for each part, is “be” and “make.” We are called to be disciples (faithful, passionate followers of Christ); we are also called to make disciples.
We are to be passionately pursuing Christ and all that He is. The Bible is replete with examples of men and women passionately pursuing Jesus Christ and holding nothing back. What does it mean to passionately pursue Jesus Christ? Let’s narrow down what we are saying here.
First, pursue God with your whole heart
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Pursue God with your whole heart and it will fill the longing in your heart and soul.
Second, desperately long after God with all of your desire
Psalm 42:1-2 1 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Do I know what it looks like to crave after God?
Third, pursue God as a student of the Bible
Psalm 119:9-11 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
It is by following the Word of God that one is able to live in the fullness of the promises of God.
Here are three application points to passionately pursue Christ:
First, develop a consistent habit of time spent with God. Take some time this afternoon, and maybe every Sunday afternoon, to schedule your God-time out in advance. Develop a consistent, daily habit of time spent with God. It might be a different time every day, but make it a habit.
Second, find a consistent place to meet with God. Having a consistent place will help get you into the right frame of mind to meet with God. You know when you go here you put away distractions, turn off notifications, maybe don’t even bring your phone.
Third, bring a journal or something to document your time with God. Write your prayers, write your struggles, write what you’re learning in the Word. It will help you look back and remember. Remembering the goodness and faithfulness of God is important in our faith.
We must cultivate a lifestyle of pursuing Christ and lovingly pursuing others for Christ.
Who are those we lovingly pursue?
We lovingly pursue fellow disciples, the backslidden, and the lost. As we pursue them, we must lead with grace and follow up with truth (John 1:17).
Grace without truth gives permission for sin and truth without grace gives condemnation. Neither is right.
How, then, do we lovingly pursue others for Christ? Here are two application points:
First, begin with prayer for others. Fill your prayer list and prayer journal with the names of others.
Second, intentionally engage others in relationship. Go out of your way this week to bring a conversation to a deeper level.
Louie Giglio said, “The unfinished work of the church is to tell the whole planet about the finished work of Jesus Christ.” That is our work, Calvary. That is the work of The Church at Hamilton. That is the work of every church body. The church is not a building; it is a group of disciples following the mission and call of God to be disciples and to make disciples who make disciples.
 Carey Nieuwhof, The Death of News, Re-Tribalization and the Future Church, December 12, 2017, https://careynieuwhof.com/the-death-of-news-re-tribalization-and-the-church/
It's Time to Make a Decision sermon manuscript
Joshua: It's Time to Make a Decision
Passage: Joshua 24:1-33
February 11, 2018
Pastor Ben Marshall
In the beginning of this chapter, Joshua gathered the whole nation together to remember what God had done. Remembrance was something they took very seriously. This entire section depicts God’s gracious provision for his people. He was always with them and always worked on their behalf. God’s grace was at work in the life of Abraham before he was even born.
As they examined the faithful work of God on their behalf, Joshua charged the people of Israel to be faithful in serving God. He reminded them of the gods their ancestors had served and called them to serve the LORD exclusively. Joshua led by example. He determined he and his household would follow God no matter what anyone else did. He pre-decided he was going to follow God no matter what.
God is holy and God is jealous. He is holy, set apart, in His character and nature. We see God’s holiness revealed in many places throughout Scripture. God as a jealous God is sometimes hard to wrap our heads around. God’s jealousy is in the reality that he would not accept any competition for his people’s loyalties. He didn’t want someone half in and half out, undecided. He wanted sold out, wholly devoted followers. That’s what we seek to be here at Calvary. Our mission, which we’ll talk more about next week, is not to half-heartedly pursue God, but to passionately, that is, fully and wholly, pursue God.
We must, just as the Israelites, count the cost of following God (Luke 14:25-33). If you aren’t willing to go all in then don’t go in at all. We can’t experience the newness of life, joy, peace, the fullness of life, forgiveness of sins and all God has to offer if we straddle the line and, sort of, halfway, follow God and His Word.
The people were adamant in their desire to follow God. It is refreshing to see! They had a decision to make and they, based on experience and encounter with God, chose to follow God.
Joshua called them to make a covenant, to be certain of their decision, to count the cost. This was not a simple declaration of service, but a transformation in their lifestyle, worldview, and primary pursuit in life. Following God alone changes everything.
What about you? Joshua gave that call to the people – choose this day whom you will serve. I want to make that same call and ask the question: Whom will you serve this day? Yourself? Or God?
You get to decide. That’s the reality of the love of God and the freedom He offers. He won’t make you. He wants all of you to be all in for Him, but He won’t force you. In love there is a choice to be made.
Which decision will you make today?
Joshua: If God is For Us
Passage: Joshua 10
January 28, 2018
Pastor Ben Marshall
This past weekend, Connie and I were able to go to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been there, you need to visit. It is incredible. We were there, and honestly, at first it felt like we were still in Michigan. We woke up in the morning to a snowstorm but went to the Grand Canyon anyway. We couldn’t see very much. It was hard to see through the snowstorm and clouds. We were excited to go the Grand Canyon, but we were also excited to have some time to relax and read books. We took advantage of the snowstorm and clouds to sit in the car with the heat on and read for a while. It was actually very relaxing. But all of a sudden, as I was in the middle of a sentence, a bird crowed. I looked up and out the window toward the canyon. The strong winds that had been rocking our car had pushed away the snowstorm and the clouds, and the clouds had released the sun to shine down over the Grand Canyon. Visibility had gone from a couple hundred feet to a few miles. It was the most incredible experience. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon makes you feel small and insignificant. It brings to mind the greatness of God. You’re left with this jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring worship of God and the understanding that “Only God could do this…”
It is that same understanding that fills the Israelites in their conquest of the Promised Land: “Only God could do this…” When the people didn’t follow the Word of God and when they didn’t ask counsel from God, they lost the battle at Ai and the people from Gibeon deceived them. But, when they followed His Word and His plan, they couldn’t lose. “Only God could do this.” God is far beyond us and our ability to comprehend the whys and the hows of what goes on in this world. When we’re going through hard times, we often don’t understand how we’re going to get through. We don’t see things like God sees them, but, through His Word, we get a glimpse at the way God sees things. Everything is for His glory and His Name. God sees your singleness differently than you do. God sees your marital struggle differently than you do. God sees your doubt differently than you do. God sees your temptation differently than you do. He is not intimidated, surprised, or overwhelmed. He has a plan and He is at work. If God is for us, who could be against us (Romans 8:31)?
There is a lot going on in Joshua 10. What are some things we can learn from this text?
First, God is at work in every situation of our lives.
Today, God is at work in your life. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it because we can’t see it; but know this: God is always at work. God is at work in every circumstance and situation of your life. You are never alone and you are never forgotten. God’s plans and ways are higher than our ability to understand. Just because we can’t see it, or it doesn’t feel like it, doesn’t mean God is inactive. Connie and I were sitting in that car, oblivious to the way God was using the wind to push away the clouds. Only when we looked up did we see what God had been doing behind the scenes. God is always at work, even when we don’t see it. Maybe the work God is doing in your life right now is having you be here this morning. God is trying to speak to you, trying to draw you to Himself, but you have been resisting. God wants to be in a relationship with each one of us. Every single one of us needs Jesus Christ¾even more those who have believed or received Him as Lord and Savior.
Second, pray with simple confidence in the sovereign plan and power of God.
Joshua’s prayer in verses 12-13 is an incredible depiction of simple confidence that God is in the heavens and does as He pleases. Joshua was following the Word of God and prayed that God would help him and all Israel defeat the enemy as God had spoken to them to do. This wasn’t Joshua praying for what he wanted, but for the purpose and glory of God. Why don’t we pray with this kind of conviction and confidence? The Bible tells us many different times how we can pray with conviction and confidence.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. The delight in the LORD comes first, and then the desires of your heart (because your desires will be the desires of God when you are delighting yourself in Him!).
- Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Joshua definitely showed this faith.
- John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Joshua was abiding in the words of God and following His plan. God responded and did what Joshua requested.
- James 4:2-3 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
- 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
God hears and responds to the simple prayers of faith from the righteous person following after Him. God doesn’t answer every prayer just as we would or as we want Him to, but we can take confidence in knowing that He hears and responds to His sons and daughters as they abide in Him.
Passage: Joshua 9
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Key Goals: (Know) Learn the importance of seeking God’s counsel. (Feel) Be energized by the fullness of God’s grace. (Do) Prayerfully act upon the counsel of the Lord in all circumstances.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to open God’s word with you this morning. Today, we are going to continue walking with the Israelites as they march into the promised land and experience the faithfulness of God. Until this point, we have looked at how God, as a faithful warrior, has delivered the land of Canaan into the hands of his people. Ultimately, the story of the book of Joshua, like all of the Bible, is God’s story.
But, before we begin to journey further, I have a confession to make. As I read the book of Joshua, I am always a little shaken by the extreme measures God has called the people to take. Why would God instruct the nation of Israel to storm the land and slaughter its inhabitants? For the modern reader this, rightly, creates a lot of tension. To answer this question, we need to travel back in time some 500 years prior to the book of Joshua. It begins with a man named Abraham. In Genesis 15:13 & 16 God tells Abraham, “Your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years… Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”[i] This verse helps us to understand this question. You see, the time of captivity in Israel coincides with God’s plan for judgment upon the inhabitants of Canaan. For 400 years, while the descendants of Abraham cried out to God for mercy, God was demonstrating mercy and longsuffering towards the Canaanites. Yet, God would only tolerate their sin for so long. When the time for God’s grace had passed, he had raised up a people to act as the instruments of his judgment, much as he would do against the Israelites in the years to come. God, concerned that the practices of the inhabitants of the land would corrupt his people, orchestrates their destruction. God does not mess around when it comes to sin!
The book of Joshua begins with God’s instruction to his chosen leader, Joshua, to lead the people into the land. Joshua 1:6 states, Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit a land that I swore to their fathers to give them. It is with this promise that the people of God, following a rather strange battle plan, march against the city of Jericho. God, true to his word, delivers the city into their hands. Eventually, after dealing with the sin of the Israelites, God would also deliver the city of Ai.
Last week, we finished chapter 8 at Mt. Ebal, in which the entire law was read before the nation of the Hebrews. Surely, in the midst of rereading the law, Joshua would have read the words of Deut 7:1-2 When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. “You shall make no covenant with them.” How these words would later haunt the people.
Today, we are going to pick up in chapter 9. Sadly, we are going to see yet another failure on the part of the Israelites. My hope for today is that we will be encouraged by the example of God’s people to prayerfully pursue the counsel of the Lord.
Joshua 9:1-2 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.
Clearly, word had spread to the inhabitants of Canaan about what Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, had done to Egypt, the kings beyond the Jordan, Jericho, and Ai. The people were frightened… they were right to be, they were next in line. Thus the kings of the peoples came up with a plan. If Jericho, with its impenetrable walls, and Ai could not individually withstand attack, then the best strategy would be to combine forces into one large army. Surely, this would be the only way to survive. Yet, the people of Gibeon were not convinced that brute force would be the wisest response. They decide upon another course of action: cunning and deception. Now, we need to understand that Gibeon is a city-state about 6 miles NW of Jerusalem. Chapter 10 tells us that Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities and greater than Ai, and all of its men were warriors. The important thing for us to remember is that Gibeon lay just down the road a bit.
Wisdom: They did not have because they did not ask
Joshua 9:3-15 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us." But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?" They said to Joshua, "We are your servants." And Joshua said to them, "Who are you? And where do you come from?" They said to him, "From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, 'Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us."' Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey." So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
Consider the brilliance of the Gibeonites’ plan to deceive the Israelites. They pretend to be from a far distant land seeking to make a covenant with the Hebrews. They have worn-out sacks, worn-out wineskins, worn-out clothes, and moldy old bread. They mention all the things God had done to the kings on the other side of the Jordan River. This is old news. Yet, they neglect to mention anything about Jericho or Ai as that news would be too recent. Do you see what they are doing here? It seems that the Gibeonites are aware of God’s command not to make a covenant with the people of the land. They also seem to be aware that God granted permission for the people to make covenants with nations in far off places. Notice how the Gibeonites appeal to the Israelites by calling themselves servants and lifting up the name of the LORD God.
It is at this point that Joshua and the elders of the people make a crucial mistake: they fail to seek the wisdom of God. Instead they rely upon their own understanding. Their problem was not lack of common sense. Clearly, there were moments in the explanation of the Gibeonites that raised red flags for the elders. Some things didn’t seem to add up. They even suspect that the Gibeonites might actually be from close by rather than from a distance. Joshua even steps in to evaluate the “evidence” that the representatives offered. Yet, Israel’s leaders failed to do a crucial thing: they failed to ask counsel from the Lord; they didn’t pray.
I would like to take a step outside the story for a moment to camp on this. I fear this shortcoming of the Israelites might be the very same trap that many believers fall into—we don’t pray; we don’t seek the counsel of the Lord. There are many reasons that a person might fail to seek guidance from the Lord. Perhaps they don’t feel that prayer is effective, there doesn’t seem to be enough time, they aren’t sure what to pray about, or they just forget. But, there is sometimes an even more sinister reason. Sometimes we don’t pray simply because we are arrogant. We think that we don’t really need God’s help. Joshua had evaluated the evidence, interviewed the messengers, and made a decision. On the surface, it looked great. What nation wouldn’t want to have a potentially powerful foreign ally? Yet, to arrogantly make a decision like this without seeking God’s counsel was clearly a mistake.
How about you? Have you ever made a mistake? Have you ever made a big mistake? Was it because you did not seek the counsel of the Lord? Seeking the counsel of the Lord through prayer is clearly emphasized in the Bible. God wants us to come to him as we make decisions. This is particularly true as we too have an enemy, prowling about, looking to deceive us so that he may devour us. We must be a people on our knees seeking the heart of our God. There are a number of passages in God’s word that instruct us to this end. Here are just a few:
- Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Continue steadfastly in prayer… (Colossians 4:2)
- Pray without ceasing… (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)
Integrity: Keeping an oath even when it hurts
Joshua 9:16-20 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. But all the leaders said to all the congregation, "We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.”
Thus, the leaders of Israel blew it. They made a covenant with a people with whom they were clearly not allowed to make a covenant. Because of this, all of the people murmured against the leaders. It’s easy to murmur against leadership when they make mistakes. There is no question that the leaders made a mistake. Yet the people begin to grumble and complain against them and put pressure upon the leadership because of their blunder. Can you imagine how the leaders probably felt having to explain to the people that they had blown it again? How easy it would have been to try to call a “mulligan.” It would have been easier to just disregard the oath that had been made. Besides, it was a mistake born out of deception. Yet, even though Israel had entered into a bad alliance, they remained true to their oath. In their minds, two wrongs did not make a right. It turns out that this was the correct course of action. Some 400 years later, King Saul would fail to keep this covenant. In his zeal for the sons of Israel, he sought to put the Gibeonites to death. Because of this, God brought a famine upon Israel until David sought to make it right with the Gibeonites. We serve a God who is faithful to his covenants and, as such, expects his people to keep their word.
We need to learn from this. God does not change; he keeps his covenants. “Thank God that He is a covenant keeper. Throughout Israel's history, His chosen people stiffened their necks and disobeyed the One who saved them from slavery in Egypt. How easy it would have been for God to wash His hands of this rebellious people. But God kept His covenant. He kept it by bringing adversity on His people when they sinned (such as the famine which came on Israel in David's time), but He also provided a Savior, who perfectly kept the Mosaic Covenant and fulfilled the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. He inaugurated the New Covenant, by which sinful men are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and His blood, which was shed to make an atonement for the sins of men.”[ii] God in turn expects us to keep our covenants. It is too often tempting to pull out of an obligation because we “made a mistake,” even though we gave our word. Men, how is your covenant relationship with your wife? Ladies, how are you treating the covenant you made with your husbands? Are you longing for a way out of the relationship because you made a mistake or because you entered into it foolishly? Let us remember that the Lord will hold us to our word.
Grace: Better is one day in his courts than a thousand elsewhere
Joshua 9:21-27 And the leaders said to them, "Let them live." So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them. Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, "Why did you deceive us, saying, 'We are very far from you,' when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God." They answered Joshua, "Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it." So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place that he should choose.
So finally, we come to the “big reveal.” This is the moment in which Joshua finally confronts the Gibeonites for their deception. He begins his interrogation by asking a simple question, “Why did you deceive us?” The answer of the Gibeonites is telling. “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing.” The Gibeonites feared the Lord. Was this fear indicative of their salvation? Probably not. Yet it is this fear of the Lord that moved them to action. In many ways this mirrors the story of a prostitute in Jericho named Rahab. Like Rahab, the Gibeonites were moved to action because they came to the realization that Yahweh, the God of Joshua, was truly worthy of fear. Yet, ultimately through this encounter they were introduced to the God of grace. Both Rahab and the Gibeonites are accepted by Israel, even if it was under dubious circumstances. “Rahab and the Gibeonites did not deserve to receive this acceptance. Neither, however, did Israel deserve to receive the promised land (Deut. 9:4-6). Neither do we deserve to receive forgiveness and acceptance as part of God’s people. In all these cases, it is not due to us, but due to God, his mercy, his grace, and his love.”[iii]
My friend, have you come to terms with the God of Israel? If not, what are you waiting for? There are some who will hear the message of the Gospel and choose to walk away from it, assuming that it does not relate to them. If this is you, let me point you again to the example of the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites’ response of fear before God was appropriate. Truly the writer of Hebrews was right when he said It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The truth is that the Gibeonites were not worthy of the grace of God, neither was Rahab. Likewise, the Israelites were not worthy to be called the people of God or to inherit the land. Neither do we deserve forgiveness and grace. Yet God’s unconditional love through the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes it possible for a prostitute, a deceiver, and Gentiles like us to come into relationship with him.
Perhaps you are one who has been convinced that you have blown it too much. That there is no hope for you because you have just pushed God too far. That somehow God could not love you. If those voices are in your head, can I just suggest to you that you have been listening to the Deceiver. He would like nothing more than to drive a wedge between you and the Lord. But again, look at the Gibeonites. We aren’t given a list of redeemable traits that convinced God to bring them into his people. And that is the beauty of it. God is not looking for us to somehow get it all together before we come to him. He calls us just as we are.
As for the Gibeonites, they were cursed by Joshua to serve the house of the Lord as woodcutters and drawers of water. Yet, as you look at their response, they seem to be completely fine with it. It was better to be a servant to the house of God than to be destroyed outside of it. In fact, hundreds of years later, when Israel returns to Jerusalem from captivity, the Gibeonites were among those who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah. I wonder if their hearts reflected the Psalmist when he said For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psa 84:10). Oh, how good it is to be in relationship with God, regardless of what our lot in his kingdom may be.
So, what can we learn from Joshua 9?
1. God is the giver of wisdom. God desires his children to seek him out in prayer. It is often because of the negligence of believers to pray that we make dire mistakes. How about you? Do you place all of your trust in the Lord or do you still rely upon your own understanding?
2. God is a keeper of covenants. The Bible tells us that God cannot lie. He has made covenants with his people and he is faithful to complete them. This is great news for us! It is because of the covenant with his people that we have access to the throne through Jesus Christ. As such, he requires his people to keep their covenants as well. How about you? As a representative of Christ, are you willing to keep your covenants, even to your hurt?
3. God is a fountain of grace. Remember that God does not wait for us to get our act together before we can enter into his kingdom. The good news is that we don’t have to. Jesus has already paid for our sins through his atoning work on the cross. Just like Rahab, the Gibeonites, and the Israelites, we can be the recipients of God’s grace. Let us remember and celebrate God’s grace in our lives.
[i] All Scripture quotations are from ESV: Study Bible (2007): English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.
[ii] Deffinbaugh, R.L., (June 1, 2004). Promise Breakers and Promise Keepers. [article]. Retrieved from https://bible.org/seriespage/19-promise-breakers-and-promise-keepers-2-samuel-21
[iii] Ford, W., (March 22, 2016). The Merciful God of the Conquest? [article]. Retrieved from https://www.belfastbiblecollege.com/the-merciful-god-of-the-conquest
Joshua: All In
January 14, 2018
As we read Joshua 8 today, we are going to see all of the Israelites were all in. They believed God, trusted His command, and followed Him fully. Let that be true of us as well.
All through the description of the battle plan is the repeated focus on God’s plan and God’s Word. Verse 7 tells the ambushing force that the LORD your God will give it into your hand and when they had taken the city they were to do according to the word of the LORD. Again, it’s not about the battle but about the LORD who gave the victory. The Israelites focused on who was fighting for them not what they were doing to fight.
After the battle, their second in the land of Canaan, it appears the Israelites traveled some distance away to worship and refocus their hearts. Joshua made an altar, wrote a copy of the Law, and read it to the entire nation.
Last week we saw that God takes sin seriously, and so should we. This week we see that God wants His people to be all in. He doesn’t want pieces of us. He doesn’t want some of us. He doesn’t want us to follow just a part of the Word of God. He wants all of us to follow all of His Word. Here is where the hard work really begins. Where would you say your heart is? Psalm 139:23-24 is a great passage to help examine that. We are good at justifying our sin and letting ourselves off the hook. Psalm 139:23-24 puts the focus on God examining us and then us needing to do the hard work of accepting what God points out and repenting from it. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (NLT)
Where are you holding back? What parts of your life are offensive to God? What do you need to repent and turn from? Allow God to examine your heart and test your thoughts. Then do something about it. Give over to Him what you’re holding back. Confess, repent, and seek accountability and forgiveness from others if necessary. Are you willing to go all in for God? It is a process, not a one-time decision. You have to make this decision new every day, and usually multiple times throughout the day. When faced with temptation, we have to answer the question: Am I going to go all in for God and say no to temptation or am I going to be all in for myself and say yes to temptation?
God Takes Sin Seriously, So Should We
Passage: Joshua 7
Sunday, January 7, 2018
Pastor Trent Broussard
Last week, we watched as Joshua led Israel to a most improbable victory. The walls of Jericho were built to withstand any army and would have most assuredly survived an assault from Israel had not the Lord been on their side. The story is well known. Israel did exactly as the Lord instructed and the walls came down. The instruction once the walls came down was simple: save Rahab and those in her household and save all the gold, silver, bronze and iron for the treasury of the Lord. Everything else was to be utterly destroyed. No prisoners were to be given quarter and no bounty was to be taken by any soldier. By and large, this happened exactly as the Lord commanded. Almost everyone obeyed the Lord.
Achan’s Sin Affects Others
Joshua 7:1 But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.
It is interesting that the Lord holds all of the people of Israel accountable for the sin of one man. Remember the command from Joshua 6:18: But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. One man stole the things devoted for destruction, not the nation. But God holds all Israel responsible. Romans 5:12 says Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Just like in the Garden of Eden, when the sin of one man brought a curse upon all men, one man’s sin in Jericho brought the anger of the Lord upon the people of Israel. Achan’s sin brought the anger of the Lord upon all of Israel. Sin not only affects the sinner but everyone around them. Sin destroys community.
Sin Destroys Hope
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” 4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, 5 and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water.
Joshua doesn’t know about Achan’s sin. Joshua doesn’t know the Lord is angry; he is simply making a strategic decision based on good intelligence from his men. Israel should have easily defeated Ai, just as Jericho should have easily defeated Israel. But instead, 36 men are killed as the 3,000 Israelites turn and run from the army of Ai. And look what the Scripture says in Joshua 7:5: And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. Just a couple of chapters earlier it was the Canaanites whose hearts were melting as Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground: Joshua 5:1 …Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted…
The sin of one man destroyed the spirit of an entire people. The people who crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, the people who marched around Jericho, played trumpets, gave a shout and watched the walls fall down, were now without hope and fearful. Jim Hamilton writes: This episode demonstrates that Yahweh’s righteousness is not limited by his commitment to Israel. His commitment to them does not cause him to show an unjust favoritism toward his chosen people. When they sin he punishes them, showing the glory of his justice. Sin destroyed hope for Israel. Even though they were God’s chosen people, the effects of sin brought them to despair.
Sin Causes Grief
Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, O Lord GOD, why have you brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan!  O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies!  For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?”
Remember that only Achan sinned, but the whole nation is suffering and grieving. A defeated Israel mourns the loss of 36 men. They grieve, and Joshua understands that the Lord has done this. Joshua’s appeal is not based on Israel’s goodness or deserved standing. Israel has no goodness. They do not deserve any standing with the Lord. Joshua appeals to the reputation of the Lord; he appeals to God’s name and his character.
Without Faith, Man Cannot Please God
The LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. 12 Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. 13 Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the LORD, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” 14 In the morning therefore you shall be brought near by your tribes. And the tribe that the LORD takes by lot shall come near by clans. And the clan that the LORD takes shall come near by households. And the household that the LORD takes shall come near man by man. 15 And he who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”
God does not allow Joshua to continue his mourning and questioning of God. Instead God gets right to the point: Israel has sinned. Note God does not say Achan has sinned, but Israel has sinned. For the sin of one man, the entire community was held accountable.
What was Achan’s sin? Yes, Achan took what God had forbidden, but the heart of Achan’s sin was unbelief. He did not believe that God would hold him accountable. He did not believe that God would even know that he had taken the items. He did not believe. This was the root of his sin. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Achan did not have faith, he did not believe, so the Scripture says it was impossible for Achan to please God.
God Is Not Mocked
So Joshua rose early in the morning and brought Israel near tribe by tribe, and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 And he brought near the clans of Judah, and the clan of the Zerahites was taken. And he brought near the clan of the Zerahites man by man, and Zabdi was taken. 18 And he brought near his household man by man, and Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. God did see Achan sin. God did know what Achan had done. God does what he says he will do.
God created perfection in the Garden of Eden, Adam sinned, and death was the penalty. Adam and Eve deserved immediate death, but God was merciful and promised redemption through their seed. God destroyed all the population of the earth save Noah and his family due to the wickedness of the people. When Noah left the ark, it was like a new opportunity in Eden, yet Noah sinned and man's downward spiral continued. Here in Canaan, God has brought his people victory and given them the land. This is a new opportunity, a fresh start for the people of God. The faithless generation was gone, yet the pattern of sin continues, this time through Achan. The truth is, man has failed at every opportunity he has been given to follow God, and the truth is that all are deserving of destruction.
Notice the progression of sin in 7:21: I saw…I coveted…I took…I hid. We see the same progression with David and his sin with Bathsheba in 2 Sam 11: He saw her that she was beautiful, he inquired about her (coveted), he took, and then he murdered her husband to conceal his sin. In case you may be thinking this is an Old Testament issue and does not matter today, consider James 1:14–15: But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Sin Is Costly And Cannot Be Ignored
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and behold, it was hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. 23 And they took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and to all the people of Israel. And they laid them down before the LORD. 24 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.
Jim Hamilton writes:
We must not too easily pass over this. A man received the death penalty, and his family died with him, because he plundered a cloak from Shinar along with some silver and gold (Josh. 7:21). It is only the majesty of Yahweh that makes this just. For this to be just, the greatness of Yahweh must be such that trusting in what one can see, rather than what Yahweh has said, is a crime that warrants the forfeiture of life. The ancient Israelites were not a barbaric, bloodthirsty people, but Yahweh is a God whose holiness is a consuming fire. Achan himself gives “glory to God” and “praise to him” and confesses his sin against Yahweh (7:19–20). Israel is saved from Yahweh’s wrath through the judgment that falls on Achan. Yahweh is shown to be just and merciful, and the awful demands of holiness thunder transcendent greatness.
Consider the story of Uzzah the priest who was helping transport the Ark of the Covenant in an ox cart for David. The ark slipped and was falling. Uzzah reflexively put his hand onto the Ark to steady it and was immediately struck dead by the Lord for his disobedience. God had strict rules for the holy things of the Tabernacle. Not only was Uzzah forbidden to touch the Ark, he was forbidden to even look at it. RC Sproul writes:
He touched it anyway. He stretched out his hand and placed it on the ark, steadying it in place lest it fall to the ground. An act of holy heroism? No! It was an act of arrogance, a sin of presumption. Uzzah assumed that his hand was less polluted than the earth. But it wasn’t the ground or the mud that woiuld desecrate the ark; it was the touch of man. The earth is an obedient creature. It does what God tells it to do. It brings forth its yield in its season. It obeys the laws of nature that God established. When the temperature falls to a certain point, the ground freezes. When water is added to the dust, it becomes mud, just as God designed it. The ground doesn’t commit treason. There is nothing polluted about the ground.
God gave specific rules about the ark, and as a priest, Uzzah knew the rules but ignored them anyway, arrogantly assuming the ground was more defiling than he would be. God gave specific rules for the destruction of Jericho. Achan knew the rules, but ignored them, believing that either God was not serious, or that he could actually hide his sin from God. Either way, his sin ultimately was a sin of disbelief. He did not believe that God would do what God said he would do. This is not simply the way God worked in the Old Testament. Consider Acts 5:1–11, the story of Ananias and Sapphira:
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Sin is big deal. It was big deal for Achan and the nation of Israel and it is a big deal for you and me.
Truths for the passage:
1. Sin always destroys communion
- Between God and man
- Between peopl
2. God sees it all
- There is no secret sin.
- God is aware of everything that you have ever done.
3. Death is necessary to pay for sin
- Achan’s life and the lives of his immediate family members was the required payment for sin.
- Christ has died for our sins.
1. Since God is serious about sin, we should be too.
Just because we are forgiven in Christ does not mean we now have a license for sin. Romans 6:1-4
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
If we are walking in sin, we are not walking in newness of life. Why do you think Paul wrote this to the church at Corinth? 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! Sin is serious. We cannot take it lightly or simply make excuses. God expects us to change. He has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. We need to take inventory of our lives and confess our sin and repent. Christ died for our sin. It is that serious. If it wasn’t serious, Christ didn’t need to die.
2. Forgiveness restores relationships.
We will see in the passage next week that after Israel dealt with the sin of Achan, God’s blessing returned. We confess our sin and repent, and our relationship with God is restored. Likewise, when we confess our sins to one another and repent, our relationships with one another can be restored. This is why we are given this command in Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the English Standard Version (Crossway, 2008).
Hamilton Jr., James M. God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology. (Crossway, 2010).
Sproul, RC. The Holiness of God. (Tyndale, 1985).
We are back in the book of Joshua this morning, looking at the Battle of Jericho. This is one the most famous battles of the Israelites as they capture the Promised Land. The focus of the book of Joshua can really be summed up in Joshua 1:7–8 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. God called the Israelites to faithfully follow Him. That is what God wants from us.
Most of us are easily distracted. C.S. Lewis said: "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (The Weight of Glory).
As we move into Joshua 5:13-6:27, we see that spiritual preparedness mattered more to the Lord than military prowess. The Lord would do battle for the Israelites if they maintained the proper priorities and faithfully followed their Lord.
Even when it didn't make sense, when God gave the Israelites a confusing battle strategy, they faithfully followed. What a lesson we can learn! Even when we doubt, when we are confused, when we are uncertain, when it doesn't make sense, we must faithfully follow the Lord.
God wants us to be faithful followers not because He’s narcissistic and arrogant, but because He is Holy and He knows us. He was there when sin and deception entered the world. He knows the promise it makes and the devastation it brings. He knows that if we are going to live righteous, holy lives pursuing Jesus, we have to be all in, or else we will live a shell of the life He has offered.
Life is better when we faithfully follow God and His Word.
What’s the one thing to walk away with from today’s message? The one point today is this: Determine today to faithfully follow the Lord no matter what.
God With Us
Passages: Genesis 2:18-24, 3:6, 15:1-6, 17:1-8; Joshua 1:9; Matthew 1:18-25; Hebrews 1:1-3; Galatians 4:4-5
Sunday, December 24, 2017
Pastor Ben Marshall
There is nothing as powerful as presence. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and I had this thought last Christmas, as she was two months old, that she desires my presence over presents. The same is true this year.
The impact of a present is temporary, but the impact of the presence of those around us is lifelong.
When we look at Scripture, we can see one overwhelming characteristic of God: He wants to be with His people.
First, we see God with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:18-24; 3:8). At the very beginning, in the creation account, we see that God didn’t just create and leave. He created, and He was close and interacting with creation.
Second, we see God with Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:1-8). God brought Abraham outside in verse 5 and promised him heirs and offspring innumerable. Abraham at this point was very old and had zero children. But as God was there with Abraham, He promised to make Abraham the father of many nations.
Third, we see God was with the people of Israel (Joshua 1:9). Our regular sermon series, continuing next week, has been going through the book of Joshua. We see at the beginning of that book that God promised His presence. God didn’t just promise a one-time presence, but a “wherever you go” presence. The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
Fourth, we see God with us (Matthew 1:18-25). This is what we celebrate and remember at Christmas time. Jesus Christ came to be God with us (Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT)
Every one of these “God with us” moments followed God’s timing, not the timing of mankind.
Galatians 4:4-5. At the perfect time, at just the right time, God sent Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, subject to the laws of man, so that we might become children of God. John 1:12, which we read at the beginning of the service, says But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
The question is, “Have I received Jesus Christ, have I believed in His Name and become a child of God?”
Joshua: Covenant-Keeping God
Passage: Joshua 5:1-12 & various Scriptures
Pastor Ben Marshall
We have come from Joshua 3-4, where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground and set up 12 stones, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel, as a reminder of what God had done. Today. in Joshua 5, we see another of God's promises coming true in the form of circumcision and Passover.
God commands and Joshua follows. The Israelites, according to Genesis 17:14, needed to be circumcised in order to be inside the covenant of God. However, Joshua reveals none of the Israelites in the wilderness, during their 40 years of wandering, had been circumcised. They were living outside of the promise of God!
Once they had all been circumcised, God told them: “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” They were no longer ridiculed because they were now back in the covenant promise of God and He protected and provided for them.
As we continue through Joshua 5, the focus turns to Passover. The Israelites celebrated Passover 40 years after the first Passover in the land of Egypt. The first signaled the exodus from Egypt, and this celebration signaled the entrance into the Promised Land.
What can we take away from this passage? I fear that some, maybe even many, of us don’t experience the full promise of God. Jesus says in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Are we living life abundantly? It doesn’t mean monetarily or with possessions—but are we living life abundantly in the promises of God?
I don't think we always live like we trust or believe in the promises of God.
Today the action point is this: live like God keeps His promises.
Here is just a small sampling of the promises of God for His people:
• God has promised to supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
• God has promised that His grace is enough in our struggles and weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
• God has promised to always provide the way of escape when temptation comes (1 Corinthians 10:13)
• God has promised that Jesus Christ paid with His blood the debt we could not, and righteousness is available only through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:21-25)
• God has promised His Holy Spirit to intercede for His children and that all things work together for the good of those who are His (Romans 8:26-28)
• God has promised to forgive us our sins if we confess and repent from our sins (1 John 1:9)
• God has promised eternal life through Jesus Christ for all who believe (John 11:25-26)
What would be different in your life if you lived like God keeps His promises?
Joshua: Follow the Lord
November 26, 2017
Pastor Ben Marshall
The Israelites are getting ready to enter the Promised Land, but God has specific instructions for how they will cross over. He is going to do a miraculous thing for the Israelites, but they have to be willing to follow Him. They have to trust and obey God!
The purpose of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River on dry ground is to make much of God. God performs this miracle so the Israelites will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will, without fail, be with them in battle. God has gone before them and prepared the way.
What can we learn from Joshua 3-4?
1. Obedience is hard, but worth it. Obedience is hard when we live packed lives. We are too busy...often too busy to pray, to meditate on Scripture, to write it on our hearts. We need to slow down. Obedience is hard, but so worth it. Obedience opens up opportunities for God to do miraculous things.
2. Take obedience one step at a time. God is not a God of chaos, but of order. He has a plan. We want to sprint, or see the whole thing at once. That’s not usually how God works. Sufficient for today are its troubles (Matthew 6:34). Trust God's plan and follow Him.
3. Remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. Remember who God is. Remember God’s character and nature, His promises. Remember how God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you, not because you have it all together, but in your mess. Remember the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Taste and See That the Lord is Good
1 Samuel 21:10-22:1; Psalm 34
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Pastor Trent Broussard
David was on the run from Saul. He feared for his life as Saul intended to kill him. As he is hiding, David goes into the camp of Achish and is identified by the servants of Achish. Rather than be taken prisoner, held hostage, or worse, David feigns insanity and secures his escape. Psalm 34 is what flowed from David after these events.
What can we learn from David in Psalm 34? Here are five applications that we should consider as we begin a new-normal phase known as transition:
1. Pray - The Lord hears our prayers and answers them. Praying for our staff, for our leadership, for our search team and for our brothers and sisters in the congregation is not an optional, good idea. It is a necessity. We must cast our cares upon the Lord. We must ask for His grace and His provision.
2. Look to Jesus - Our mission is to passionately pursue Christ. We should passionately pursue Christ in His word, in prayer and in worship. Don’t be half-hearted or reserved. Go all in for Christ. We are not to sample Him and see if He works. We must taste and see that the Lord is good.
3. Share your faith - The second part of our mission is passionately pursuing others for Christ. We need to actively share what Christ has done for us. We don’t need to wait for a new lead pastor before we tell others how we have been redeemed.
4. Live for Christ - Pursuing personal holiness and righteousness is not an optional add-on to your faith. It is the expectation of your life of faith. We cannot pick and choose when and where to be righteous. We must be righteous today, knowing that eternity is in the balance.
5. Serve - Do you want to know how to encourage your church leaders? When the phone call, text or email comes asking you to serve, say YES. We are making changes in our Sunday morning routines that will cause us to need some new volunteers or cause our volunteers to serve in a different way. To quote the famous NIKE ad, JUST DO IT. We will have needs in our Children’s Ministry. Say yes. You may be asked to usher or teach or sing or pray or give. Say yes.
I do not know what the future holds for Calvary, but I know who holds the future, and we can trust Him.
Why Missions: A Farewell Sermon
Pastor Paul Davis
Key Goals: (Know) To know God's plan for missions. (Feel) To feel an affinity for missions. (Do) To be humble senders or goers.
Directly expressed commands to proclaim Christ:
- Acts 1:8
- Acts 13:47
- Mark 16:15
- Romans 10:13-14
- 1 Chronicles 16:24
- Matthew 28:19-20
For the last 8 years we have served you as lead pastor. It has been the joy of our life, being a part of your children's dedications, baptisms, funerals, marriages, having an opportunity to preach, teach and counsel. I have so enjoyed working with our leadership team. Calvary, I hope you know how blessed you are to have such a godly team of capable men and women leading this church.
As we leave for ABWE I want to leave you with a challenge, but before I do I think that I should answer the question: Why. Why would we do this? Why leave a church we love and go into missions?
1. Because of God's stated goal.
Throughout all of human history, God's goal has been to reunite himself with fallen humanity (Isaiah 49:6; Mark 16:15). More than 86% of the 3 billion Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim individuals do not personally know a Christian and have an almost zero percent chance of even meeting one.
2. Because of Revelation 7:9-10.
Right now it is estimated there are still over 6,700 people groups with zero Christian witness. God's plan is to reach every one of these people groups. His plan included using His people to do that.
3. The Money.
That may sound weird to you, but consider this: Until recently, American Christians gave less money to reaching the unreached than they did for buying Halloween costumes...for their pets. Calvary and The Church @ Hamilton gives about 14%, or fourteen cents for every dollar we collect, of our overall budget to missions, but the average church gives less than 2%, or two pennies of every dollar, it collects to missions. We can do better.
This is the burden God has given me. This is why we have said yes to this opportunity. This is why we are leaving the comfort of a church we love. This task, this mission, is what we have and will devote our life to.
We love you all deeply, and plead with you as we have many times before: Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel. If you cannot go, then give and send someone to the task.
Acts 13:47 - For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the nations, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."
You will want to take the time to listen to this recording of Don Whitney teaching through Praying the Bible. It is a game-changer in the way we pray.
Joshua: The Fear of the Lord
Passage: Joshua 2; Heb. 11:31
Sunday October 22nd, 2017
Pastor Paul L. Davis
Today, as we approach the second chapter of Joshua, God’s people are ready to enter the land. They are camped on the edge of the river separating them from the Promised Land. This is an exciting time in biblical history. Think of the anticipation. There had been 400 years of slavery and another 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
What will be our first glimpse into the Promised Land? A prostitute named Rahab. She is mentioned eight times in Scripture (Josh. 2:1, 3; 6:17, 23, 25; Matt. 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25), and in six of these occurrences she is described as a prostitute. I think it is important to note that this would not have been a good woman; she was the kind of woman that Proverbs 7 warns young men to stay away from. But these spies went to her house and lodged there.
The reason why she hid these spies in Joshua 2 is because Rahab had a fear of and belief in the Israelites’ God, YHWH.
This series in Joshua is helping us to live above our circumstances, so let me pull several truths from today’s passage that will help us do just that:
- Rahab’s strong belief in God’s power brought her great courage.
- Rahab had heard of the mighty acts of God and she was afraid—afraid of judgment, being under God’s wrath, being killed. But that fear did not paralyze her. Instead, it gave her the courage to act in faith, and that faith saved her, not just physically but also spiritually. James 2:25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
- Don’t underestimate the power of your faith to give you strength in crisis.
- Rahab’s appeal to God’s loving-kindness brought her mercy.
- God not only saved her life and the lives of her brothers, sisters, father, and mother, his mercy and loving-kindness went way further. You may not know how this story ends. For that you have to go all the way to Matthew 1:5–6 …and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king… Rahab became the great grandmother of King David, putting her in the lineage of the Messiah. When she asked for hesed, YHWH gave her his Son.
- When you are in difficult circumstances, do not be afraid to ask for God’s loving-kindness. Pray for hesed! Pray for his mercy, steadfast love, loving-kindness, grace, favor, and compassion. He is a God known for dispensing it freely.