Sermon Series

Joshua: The Lord is With You

Joshua: The Lord is With You full manuscript

Joshua: The Lord is With You

Joshua 1:1-9

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pastor Paul Davis


Our entire passage today is God speaking directly to Joshua. Let's see the context where we are: It is the 40th year of Israel wandering in the wilderness. Every single person of Joshua’s generation has died except for Joshua and Caleb who are both alive and well. All the people are situated in what was called the plain of Moab, a valley east of the Jordan River and just northeast of Mt. Nebo. Mt. Nebo is the mountain from which Moses viewed the Promised Land just before he died. The people have just spent 30 days mourning the death of Moses, and it is now time for Joshua to take the people into the land that he promised to Abraham. Let’s walk through God’s conversation with Joshua. As we do that, we are going to spot five truths about our God that are critical for us to know if we are going to rise above our circumstances.


Truth 1: God's mission continues even as leaders change (Joshua 1:2-4)

The plans are made, the mission is clear, leaders are interchangeable. It was true then and it is true now. The mission of the church is not contingent upon one or two people. God’s mission continues even as leaders change.


Truth 2: God's presence, not Joshua, will be the people's source of strength (Joshua 1:5)

Our mission is different from Joshua’s, but the promise is the same: God will be with us as we pursue his mission. Here is the important truth we need to catch: it is God’s presence, not Joshua’s, that will be the people’s source of strength. Having a great new leader like Joshua is nice, but in the end, it is the presence of God that makes the difference.


Truth 3: God expects His people to step out in strength and courage (Joshua 1:6-7)

God gave Joshua the law; he was to follow it. The same is true for us. We can move forward in strength and courage, but only if we are committed to learning and doing everything that is in the Bible. We must not veer to the left or to the right. The church must be committed to accurately handling and understanding the Word of God.


Truth 4: God calls His people to know and do His will (Joshua 1:8)

Read verse 8 again. See that promise of success at the end? The Hebrew word for “success” is also translated as “instruct, understand, thrive, prosper.” The idea is this: if you truly understand God’s Word, you will conform your life to it, which will make you thrive and prosper. There is only one place in the entire Bible where we are told how to thrive and prosper in this life, and it is here: meditating on the Word of God and being careful to do all that is written in it.


Truth 5: God commands us to walk in confidence with no fear (Joshua 1:9)

God is commanding Joshua to act a certain way based upon who God is and what he has promised. These are Joshua’s marching orders. Remember, these are God’s commands that flow from his presence. Look at the last part of verse 8 again: for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.


Wrap-Up: God’s mission has never been leader-dependent—God used Moses and Joshua interchangeably—but the success of God’s mission in us has always been dependent on our adherence to His Word and His presence. My prayer for us as a church is that, even as we look for a new leader, we would be strong and courageous; that we would push forward and take new ground. There is no reason for us to veer to the right or to the left.

Joshua: The Man

Joshua: The Man full sermon manuscript

Joshua: The Man

Joshua 1:1

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pastor Paul Davis


We are starting a new series today, beginning a journey through an incredible book of the Bible that is all too often overlooked: Joshua. We are going to stay in verse 1 today because it brings up so many questions we need to answer before we can move on. For example, where are we in the timeline of the Bible? Who is Moses? Who is Joshua? How did he become Moses' assistant? Why did Moses need an assistant? 


The Journey to Joshua:

  • Creation (Genesis 1-2)
  • The Fall (Genesis 3)
  • The Flood (Genesis 6) 
  • The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)
  • Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 12-24)
  • Ishmael & Isaac (Genesis 22-27)
  • Esau & Jacob (Genesis 26-50)
  • Joseph (Genesis 26-50)
  • 400 years (slavery in Egypt, the book of Exodus, God raising up Moses)
    • It is during these events we first find Joshua

Joshua's original name was Hoshea (Numbers 13:8), which means "salvation." Moses changed his name to Joshua, which means "YHWH is salvation" (Numbers 13:16)


What do we know about Joshua?

  • He was born into slavery in Egypt and learned here to endure suffering
  • He served Moses from his youth and was a young man during the Exodus (Numbers 11:28)
  • Joshua was a warrior for the Lord (Exodus 17:8-15)
  • Joshua knew how to wait well and be patient (Exodus 24:13)
  • Joshua understood rejection (Numbers 14:6-10)
  • The real story of Joshua's life begins with him at about the age of 70 (Numbers 27:15-23)


4 Tools for Living Above Our Circumstances:

  1. We need to learn to endure suffering (2 Timothy 2:3)
  2. We need to learn how to be number 2 (Matthew 20:26-27)
  3. We need to develop a warrior spirit (Hebrews 12:3-6)
  4. We need to develop the ability to stand alone


The Rebuild: Corrosion

The Rebuild: Corrosion sermon notes



Passage: James 5:1-5

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Key Goals: (Know) Understand there are enemies to our rebuild. (Feel) Feel compelled to fight against self-indulgence. (Do) Place God and his mission first in our life.

Introduction: Last week in our series on James, we looked at a formidable enemy of rebuilding our lives: arrogance. We found that arrogance shows up when we judge others and when we presume upon the future. As we move into chapter 5 this morning, James has one more enemy to introduce to us: the enemy of self-indulgence. James was such an interesting guy. Even though Jesus was his older half-brother, there is zero indication that James believed in or even followed Jesus while he was alive. Yet after the resurrection he became one of the leading apostles of the church. I sort of get that, though; I know I would need some serious convincing if my brother declared that he was the creator of the world.

Unlike the twelve apostles, James never left Jerusalem. He was appointed as overseer of Jerusalem and was also the most “Jewish” of the apostles. History tells us that he was known for how righteously he kept the Law, so much so that the other apostles feared him. Peter refused to eat with Gentiles because he was afraid James might hear about it (Gal. 2:11-12), and James asked Paul to buy the sacrifices for some men about to take a Nazirite vow and Paul obeyed (Acts 21:18-26.)[1] What an incredible guy he had to be that apostle Peter was afraid of him and the apostle Paul obeyed him. While historians disagree on exactly how it happened, we know that the pharisees martyred James in Jerusalem. They were upset at how many people were coming to Christ. What is interesting for us this morning is that it was happening amongst the religious elite and the wealthy. Jewish temple priests and rich landowners—powerful and influential people—were repenting of their sins and turning to Christ.

Listen to Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. In our passage this morning you are going to see why James was killed, but I also think you will see why so many repented and turned to Christ. Listen to how strong this language is. James 5:1–6[2]

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

If I were a wealthy first century Jewish landowner reading this passage, I imagine I would either be genuinely convicted and love James for his boldness to confront, or I would think he was a jerk, shooting his mouth off about matters he does not understand. It would be hard to read this and stay neutral. How I would like to handle the passage this morning is for us to take a few minutes and break down exactly what James was saying to his immediate audience, and what they would have heard and thought. Then let’s fast forward 2000 years and see if God has a message for you and me this morning.


Confronting Corrosion: James begins by calling out rich people. Look at verse 1. Come now, you rich. James is addressing a very specific class of people. He does not distinguish whether or not they are believers, just their socio-economic status. They are rich.

First Century Context: First century Israel was a peasant society in the sense that “its sole of source income was subsistence farming.” In his book ‘Peasants’, Eric R. Wolf describes peasants as rural cultivators whose surpluses were extracted by the ruling elite in order to underwrite its own standard of living.[3] Perhaps you remember the phrase “Pax Romana” or Roman peace—the idea that Romans conquered the known world and made it peaceful for centuries? The Pax Romana was real, but hidden behind that “peace” were oppressive tributes, taxes, and tolls that completely impoverished the average person. So the wealthy grew wealthier and the poor grew poorer. This problem was compounded by the fact that the wealthy elite were also the “purity elite;” the wealthy also controlled the temple, the tithes, and sacrificial offerings. The rich exploited the poor through religious purity—this is the very reason why Jesus in Matthew 21 turned over the moneychangers’ tables in the temple: they had turned God’s house into an oppressive exploitation machine.

So both individual Roman rulers and the Jewish religious elite subjugated the average person. Why is this important to know? Because of what James says next. Go back to the end of verse 1 …weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. The two Greek words for weep and howl have the idea of crying out in misery or torment. The word “howl” actually sounds like someone crying in pain (ololull). James is warning the rich to repent and prepare for a coming judgment. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. This is language not seen anywhere else in the New Testament; James almost sounds like an Old Testament prophet. The view James is trying to give us is from eternity. So much wealth has been accumulated that it can’t begin to be used, so it rots and rusts. It is the rot and rust that indicts the rich man. But as we will see in a moment, gold and silver are not the rich man’s problem; it is their heart.


The hidden enemy of greed.

4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

The way labor worked during this time period was if you worked for a day, you were paid that evening. You then took that money and bought food for your family. You have probably heard 2 Thessalonians 3:10 If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. That thought comes from this economic model. What the rich would do was withhold wages. So instead of paying every night, they would pay them at the end of the harvest. The laborer would have to borrow money to buy food and then pay off his loan once he got paid; of course they never made enough money to cover the interest, so the laborers effectively became indentured slaves, while the landowners made vast fortunes from abusing them. It was pure greed. James warns that the cries of the abused have reached the ears of the Lord.

So the enemy James is addressing is greed, the craving for wealth that leads a person to do sinful actions in order to grow rich. Paul warned against the same thing in 1 Timothy 6:9–10. Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Both Paul and James warn us that the love of money (greed) will draw us away from God and cause us to treat people in ways that God will judge.


The hidden enemy of self-indulgence.

5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

The rich that James was rebuking lived luxurious lives. But again, it wasn’t the luxury that was the problem, it was the self-indulgence. The self-indulgent person throws off restraint and discipline and yields to the desire to gratify their own selfish appetites and cravings. Just because we can have something does not mean we should indulge in it. Throughout scripture we are warned against feeding our passions and lusts, and urged instead to develop self-control, generosity and an others-centeredness.[4] Interestingly, the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, tried to find happiness through self-indulgence. Listen to what he found. Ecclesiastes 2:1–11.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine...

4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

 Solomon found that self-indulgence does not bring happiness; it is vanity. James warns that those who spend their lives seeking to indulge their desires fatten their hearts for the slaughter. This is again a reference to judgment. James wants the self-indulgent to understand that a day will soon come when they will answer for how they lived. Let’s fast forward to today. What should we walk away thinking?


You don’t have to be rich to be greedy or self-indulgent. Lying on your taxes, stealing from your employer, padding your timecard, sneaking money from your mother’s purse, over eating, bingeing on Netflix, refusing to give—these are all symptoms of greed and self-indulgence.  James really focuses in on one aspect of greed and warns us that God “hears the cries” of those who are being hurt by our greed. Before we think we don’t have any greed to repent of, let’s think a moment about how greedy people hurt those around them:

1. Greedy people must be first in line, so beware if you are in front of them.

2. Greedy people are always looking for loopholes or ways to game the system—watch out.

3. Greedy people abuse service workers who depend on tips.

4. Greedy people live for now and expect others to pay later.

5. Greedy people do as little work as possible and expect others to fill the gaps.

6. Greedy people blame innocent people as they bluff and lie their way out of trouble.

7. Greedy people covet; they covet your stuff, your spouse, your prestige, and they will take it given half a chance.

God will judge greed because of how it abuses other people. Believers are to be recognized by our love, not our greed. In fact, humility mixed with love is the antidote to greed and self-indulgence. Listen to Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. He goes on to say in Philippians 2:5–8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!


© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.



Community Group Questions


1.          Read James 5:1-6 out loud with your group. Discuss key words or phrases that jump out of the text.

2.          When you hear the word “self-indulgent,” what comes to your mind?

3.          Look at the “seven ways greed hurts others” found at the end of the sermon. Discuss a time you have seen one of these in action.

4.          James tells us that God “hears the cries” of the abused laborers. Can you think of another passage where God says he heard the cries of abused laborers and acted on their behalf? How is this similar or different?

5.          Discuss how humility and love might “cure” greed and self-indulgence.


[1] Adapted from “The Death of James the Just, Brother of Jesus Christ”

[2] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.



[4] Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).

Joseph: Freedom

Freedom Sermon Notes


Genesis 41

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis 

Key Goals: (Know) Glimpse the sovereignty of God. (Feel) Feel content that God is in control. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

Introduction: This morning we continue our epic adventure through the last chapters of the book of Genesis, with the theme of living differently. We have had the opportunity to choose to challenge ourselves, and this morning we have new and unique opportunities. Joseph’s story dwarfs any other event or person in the entire book of Genesis. There are clearly things in this man’s life that God wants us to know. Over the last several weeks, we have painfully walked with Joseph through his roller coaster life: his father’s favorite son, betrayed by10 half-brothers, sold into slavery. But because the LORD was with him, he became the ruler of the entire house—until he was unfairly accused, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. That is where we left Joseph, in prison faithfully serving and again making himself useful, but forgotten by the cupbearer. Two years go by and Pharaoh has a troubling dream, in which he was standing by the Nile. Genesis 41:2[1].

2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.


Usually when something like this happened, Pharaoh’s wise men would suggest what a dream meant. In ancient Egypt, dreams were important. Egyptian archeologists have found a book from Joseph’s time period called “The Dream Book.”[2] In it, 108 dreams are listed with their meanings; it also interpreted 72 actions that might happen in a dream and whether they were good or bad. Nothing in Pharaoh’s dream showed up in any of the books, and Pharaoh’s wise men were stumped. That is when the cupbearer remembered how Joseph had interpreted the dream he had while in prison with the baker. So he spoke to Pharaoh.

12 “A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13 And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”


So Joseph is shaved, cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh. Standing in front of the most powerful man in the world at the time, Joseph is asked if he can interpret dreams, to which he answers, “No!” Verse 16: “It is not in me;” Joseph says, “God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”


Application: This answer is one of the reasons Joseph’s life is worth studying. The humility here is convicting. Joseph knew God had revealed dreams to him, and he could have very easily answered this question, “Yes! And if you let me out of prison, I’ll interpret yours too.” A self-filled Joseph would have used this as an opportunity to shine and make a deal—but instead he gives God the glory and exalts God in Pharaoh’s eyes, even to the point of downplaying his role. It is like Joseph knew what Jesus would say 1500 years later in Matthew 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. “ Then Joseph said to Pharaoh,

25 “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.


God showed Pharaoh what he was going to do: God “fixed” the thing, God will shortly bring it about. Over and over Joseph communicates God’s plan and power to accomplish it. I’m not sure we appreciate the fearlessness here. Joseph was brave almost to the point of foolishness. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth; he was the intercessor between the gods of heaven and people on earth, and when he died, he was thought to become Osirus, the god of the dead.[3] Joseph is bravely declaring to a man who thinks he is a god that only YHWH is sovereign over the earth. Around this time, a man named Job was writing this (Job 23:13 NIV): [God] stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. Joseph isn’t done with just an interpretation, because he has a plan.

33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”


This plan is well beyond God’s interpretation of the dream; this is Joseph using his gifts to solve the obvious problems presented in the dream.

37This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.”


This is the highpoint in Joseph’s life. Looking back, we can clearly see how a chain of painful but divinely planned events have brought him to this point. Had Joseph not said “no” to Potiphar’s wife and been thrown into prison with the cupbearer, he would never have met Pharaoh. Had Joseph not been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, he would never have been in Potiphar’s house. We are beginning to see more clearly how Joseph’s life paints a picture of Romans 8:28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Joseph has both of the disclaimers on this verse: 1. He loves God 2. He is being called to use his gifts for an incredible purpose.


We need to grab two key truths from this passage or we could read this story and walk away with some really bad theology—theology, like that video at the beginning, that is selfish.

 1. Joseph’s rise was more about usefulness than it was blessing. It is important that we don’t use this story to make an inappropriate theological leap. Some have read this story and taken this away: Bad things happen, but because God is good, God turns bad things into blessings. That’s karma not Christianity, and it is not the message of this story. Sometimes bad things happen and then something worse happens.

Last year, Al-Qaeda forces moved into a village in Southern Syria. The people were “Druze,” a religious community that is a strange mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. They are unbelievers who need the gospel. On June 15, Muslim soldiers began forcing everyone in the village to convert or die. While hundreds forcibly converted to Islam, 20 villagers were shot and killed point blank for refusing. Where is the good news in this bad news story? Bad things happened and then at least 20 people were sent into a Christ-less eternity.

Our only hope in situations like that is Gen 18:25 Will not the judge of all the Earth do right? The answer is “Yes.” He will do right, by those and all the Earth. Joseph’s rise was not about God bringing some “good karma” into Joseph’s life because he experienced “bad karma.” YHWH is a neither a Buddhist nor a Hindu. Joseph to this point has shown himself faithful to God in good times and bad times, with much and with little. Because of this, God entrusted Joseph with the responsibility of rescuing his entire family from famine. If you want to be like Joseph, pray for faithfulness. Jesus said it this way in Luke 16:10 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. The Bible does not teach “good karma,” what the Bible teaches is that when we are faithful (like Joseph) with smaller responsibilities, it places us in the position for God to entrust us with much more. Joseph rose because he was faithful and useful for the kingdom.


2. Joseph’s rise was more about others than it was about Joseph. Joseph’s life isn’t just about him. Sometimes we can get self focused and fall into a black hole of thinking our lives are just about us. Joseph’s rise was a result of God keeping his promises to Abraham and his plan to preserve the lineage of Christ and two entire nations. Joseph was not the sole object of God’s attention and activity. Joseph’s position of power and prosperity enabled him to become the “savior” of his brethren. God does care for us as individuals, but he always has broader purposes for the gifts and blessings he brings into our lives. God blessed Abraham and he very specifically told him why he was chosen for blessings. Gen 2:2-3 “I will bless you (God said)…so that you will be a blessing.”

What about us?  Each of us has been given spiritual gifts—each of us a special way that the Holy Spirit works through us. But those gifts are not meant to be spent on ourselves; they are meant for the body of Christ! We have been blessed for the same reason Abraham was: to be a blessing. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7 NIV) As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10 NIV). Watch how Joseph uses his position, blessings, and skills to bless the whole world.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured. 50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh (He who makes someone forget). “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim (God has made me fruitful), “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”


These two boys’ names summed up what God was doing through the faithfulness of Joseph’s life: causing him to forget the pain that it took to get him here and bringing fruitfulness to his present service. His fruitfulness blessed the whole world.

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Blessed to be a blessing.


Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are again offering you the opportunity to be challenged. There are cards with one of six different challenges on them; these are specific applications from this morning’s message. By choosing a card, you will be like Joseph: you won’t know what you will get—it may something difficult, it may be something easy. Like Joseph, you will not know until you get there, but each of the challenges will help you live differently.


Community Group Discussion

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 41 and have everyone else try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Joseph’s life is one of extremes. This week we watched him rise. Pastor Paul made a big deal about this not being “good karma.” If it wasn’t karma, what was it?

3.          This is the third time Joseph has risen to a place of prominence. Discuss Luke 16:10 and the role that this may have played in Joseph’s life.

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Discuss some ways that God has blessed you and how you can use those blessings to bless others.

6.          Discuss your “challenge by choice.” Will it be easy for you or hard? Why? Share with the group how they might pray for you to accomplish your challenge.


© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.


[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

[2] See Figure #1 The Dream Book (

[3] Ancient History Encyclopedia “Pharaoh” by Joshua J. Mark published on 02 September 2009.

God's Powerful Prophets: Elijah

God's Powerful Prophets: Elijah Sermon Notes


Pastor Paul L. Davis

1 Kings 18:20–46, Luke 16:13

Key Goals: (Know) Know God in a way that we will display strength and take action. (Feel) Feel confident in God’s ability to overwhelm his foes.  (Do) Attempt great things for God.

Introduction: God’s Powerful Prophets. Over the next four weeks we are going to be exploring four key men in God’s plan for redeeming mankind. They were all prophets. Our first two prophets will be Elijah and Elisha, and our second two will be Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God used each of these men in powerful and unique ways. 

What is a prophet? He was a man chosen by God to bring repentance and change. He did that in four ways:

1.          Revealing to the world who God was and what he was like. (Deut. 5:4-10)

2.          Calling God’s people to love and obey him. (2 Chr. 24:19)

3.          Warning of divine judgment upon sin both on a personal and national level. (Jer. 36:30-31)

4.          Foretelling certain future events, especially as related to the coming of the Messiah. (Jer. 30:1-3, Is. 9:6)

So a prophet was not simply a “fortune teller” or even just a “truth teller.” A prophet’s job was to reveal or tell the difficult truth that God wanted something to change. The Hebrew word for prophet is “naw-bi.” The root of that word means “to be open or hollow” and it described the hollow part of a flute[1]. The idea is that a prophet’s mouth was to be hollow so that it would speak God’s words into the world. A prophet’s job was to tell God’s people the truth about God and their sin: to clearly reveal the sins that needed to be repented of and truths that needed to be remembered. Sometimes, a prophetic word is exactly what we need to hear. People can get forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, busy, and just plain disobedient. A prophet’s job was to wake people up and turn their hearts away from sin towards God. 

Background Review: This morning we will be looking at Elijah (approx. 875-850 BCE). Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 18:20–40. While you are turning, let’s set the table for where we are in time. Creation: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything was perfect until…The Fall: Where Adam & Eve rebelled against God and sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit… From that original sin, sin grew so evil and violent that God eventually brought a…Great Flood: To destroy all the violence on the earth. But in that flood he saved one family by building a great ark. Noah: was spared because of his righteousness. God told Noah after the flood to spread out over all the earth and replenish the earth… But once again man rebelled and tried to build a tower to heaven…The tower of Babel: Because of man’s refusal to obey, God confused the languages and man spread over the face of the earth.

Then from a city in what is now Iraq, God called a certain man to follow him, Abraham & Sarah: By faith Abraham becomes the seed of God’s chosen people and even though his wife is barren they give birth to…Ishmael & Isaac: Isaac was the promised son through whom Messiah would come. Isaac has two sons…Esau & Jacob: The Messiah will come through one of Jacob’s 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel. One of those sons is Joseph who protects the Israelites in Egypt during a famine. But the people become captives for 400 years, until…Moses leads the people to the Promised Land and introduces God’s law… God’s people live in the Promised Land led by The Judges. Like Sampson, Gideon, Deborah, the last judge being Samuel, because the people wanted a king. So Samuel anointed…

King Saul and after his disobedience then King David. David followed Yahweh, and handed the kingdom to Solomon who did the same for most of his life. But Solomon’s son Rehoboam oppressed the people and the kingdom split into two. Judah and Benjamin to the south and the other 10 tribes to the north. By the time we get to the prophet Elijah, the Northern Kingdom had reached an all time spiritual low. Fifty-eight years had passed since the division. Seven kings had reigned in Israel and all of them were evil. All worshipped idols. The eighth king of Israel was Ahab and under him idolatry reached its lowest, most evil point. All the priests of Yahweh were killed and the altars destroyed. Why? Because Ahab had married Jezebel, a princess of Tyre of the Phoenicians.  It was Jezebel who introduced the idolatrous cult of “Baal-Melqart” into Israel.

Baal Melqart was the god of the Phoenicians and was the focus of a festival of resurrection each year in the months of February-March where a sacrifice was made by fire. This annual sacrifice is where Baal earned his nickname the ‘fire of heaven’.[2] The Phoenicians seem not to have created large sculptural likenesses of Baal, the practice may even have been prohibited. Instead, at his temples Melqart was represented by an eternal fire and during times of war or natural disaster, children—often multiple siblings at a time—were sacrificed in the fire to appease him. [3] (Archeologists have found “tophets”—the places of sacrifice to Baal—with thousands of infant skeletons.[4]) This became the religion of the Northern Kingdom. So God sent Elijah to change all this, to call the people away from Baal-Marqart and back to him. Elijah did this first by praying for a drought. So by the time of our story this morning it had not rained for three years. There is a great famine and King Ahab believes it is all Elijah’s fault.

1 Kings 18:20–40 (ESV)

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Elijah uses the word “limping.” The word carries the idea of wavering or weaving back and forth. This tells you a lot about where the people’s hearts were. They did not know what to believe. They had forgotten God, so Elijah comes up with a plan to remind them.


 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”


This is a test that plays right into Baal’s strengths. The test is fire and Baal’s nickname was “fire of heaven.” He was remembered with an “eternal fire,” so if any god could do this, it must be Baal.

 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped (weaved back and forth) around the altar that they had made.


For four hours the people watched them cry out to Baal. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Elijah did not just make up these three taunts.[5] These represent three well known stories about Baal: Baal could die and resurrect, he was said to go on journeys, and he was known to fall asleep, awakened only by the best sacrifices.[6] But Baal did not answer. 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.

The self-laceration of this verse is part of a mourning ritual. In Ugaritic literature the gods are portrayed as practicing this when they hear of the death of Baal.[7] Notice the blood “gushed” out. These were not scratches, these priests were giving their lives for this contest. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. The evening oblation was to be done at twilight, so conservatively the prophets of Baal have been at this for 12 hours, all day long. So at twilight as the sun is setting…

 30 …Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed.

Two seahs is about the size of a two liter bottle of pop. The idea here was it was that deep all the way around the altar. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. Elijah had four kad (or pails) of water poured three times in succession on the burnt-offering until the trench was filled with water. I am sure Elijah did this to remove even the hint of the possibility of fraud in the burning of the sacrifice. Idolaters were famous for deceiving people with tricks like setting fire to the wood of the sacrifice from hollow spaces hidden beneath altars, so that people would believe that the sacrifice was miraculously set on fire.[8] Elijah wanted everyone to know if fire came, it was Yahweh at work.

 36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

Elijah wanted the people to grasp four truths from this miracle:

1. That Yahweh is the one and only God of Israel

2. That Elijah was his servant

3. That Elijah did this miracle at the Lord’s command.

4. That God wanted their hearts back. 

That was why Elijah was there. To turn the hearts of the people back to God. The fire and the showmanship are not the key to this story. It is God’s desire for people to know him, to remember him. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”


Powerful life lessons from Elijah:

1. If God is the Lord, then follow him. Elijah’s challenge to God’s people 2900 years ago is just as needed today. If God is the Lord, follow him. Let’s not be forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, or too busy for God. If he is the Lord, follow him, serve him, live for him, give to his work, join his church, live his mission!

2. There are people in this world who knowingly or unknowingly will go to great lengths to draw you away from God. The prophets of Baal literally poured out their lives to deceive the people into worshipping a false God. Don’t you believe for a moment that doesn’t happen today. Jesus himself warned us in Matthew 24:4–5 (ESV) “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” 2 Peter 2:1–3 (NLT) says …there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies…2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality… 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money.”

2 Peter 2:12–14 (NLT) These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight…They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. 14 They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed….”

Greed, power, lust, wealth…there are many reasons why people will steer you away from the Lord. Be wary.

3. The Lord still wants people to know he is God. This message is even found in Elijah’s name. His name is translated “Jah is El” or “Yahweh is God.” Elijah was God‘s messenger. He was the one guy left who knew the truth of who God was and his power to transform lives. You may be the “one guy” someone knows, the only person in their life that can speak the truth. God calls all of us to be his prophets. We are all told to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” People forget, they are preoccupied; it is up to us who know the transforming power of a relationship with Jesus Christ to share this with the lost!

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 612.

[2] Cartwright, Mark “Melqart” The Ancient History Encyclopedia published on 06 May 2016.

[3] Miles, Richard Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization Viking Press 2011. Pg 72.


[5] The mythology of the ancient world understood the gods to be involved in a variety of activities similar to those that engage human beings. Though Elijah’s words are meant to be taunts, they are not unrealistic depictions of Canaanite beliefs.

[6] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 220.

[7] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 1 Ki 18:29.

[8] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 175.

A Fulfilled Passion: Knowing Christ

A Fulfilled Passion Sermon Notes

We are continuing our walk through the book of Philippians looking for fulfillment. We are not looking for how to be happy. We are not looking for how to be rich or prosperous. We are looking for fulfillment—a sense of inner joy, purpose and satisfaction that is not passive or transient but is rooted deep in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Listen in to the next message in the series "Fulfilled."

A Fulfilled Suffering: Conflict

So far in our journey through Philippians, the apostle Paul has introduced himself and shared his gratefulness to the Philippians as they have prayed and supported him during his imprisonment for the gospel. Last week we saw how Paul was counting on the prayers of the saints and the power of the Holy Spirit to get him through his ordeal, either by life or by death. But now our letter makes a huge turn. Paul stops focusing on himself and what he is going through and instead focuses on the Philippians and what they are going through.  He is going to encourage them in their suffering and call them to “stand firm in one spirit” and “strive side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Listen in this morning on this encouraging message from Pastor Paul Davis in our Fulfilled series.

A Fulfilled Future: In Christ

A Fulfilled Future Sermon Notes

Just because Paul clearly sees how his chains are being used for God’s glory does not mean they were easy. Chains functioned both as a deterrent to escape as well as a torture device. The iron chafed and corroded the skin. The chains were often purposely made too small in order to cripple the prisoner. For food, Paul would have received his “solo fiscalis,” a daily prison ration too small to be healthy but large enough for the prisoner to survive. So how will Paul survive his captivity? In our passage this morning, Paul discusses how he thinks he will make it through his trial and imprisonment.

A Fulfilled Mission: Imprisonment

A Fulfilled Mission: Imprisonment

According to Acts 28:14–15, Paul was a bound prisoner; he was in chains in Rome. Paul could have viewed his imprisonment as a set back or as a hindrance to the gospel. But instead he saw his difficult situation as a way to further the gospel. In fact, Paul believed that his imprisonment actually advanced the Gospel. Through his imprisonment, he proclaimed a compelling message: “The gospel is so powerful, so essential, I am willing to spend my life in chains for it.” 

A Fulfilled Prayer

A Fulfilled Prayer Sermon Notes

The book of Philippians is God-breathed Scripture—profitable for doctrine, reproof and correction—but it is also a personal letter from Paul to a group of people he loved. Why does Paul love them so much? Paul’s love and joy for the Philippians flowed from their partnership in the gospel. As we walk through Philippians 1:3-11 we will begin to understand more of this partnership, or koinonia, that Paul experienced.

A Fulfilling Setting: Prison

A Fulfilling Setting: Prison (Sermon Notes)

Discontent, frustrated, unhappy, dissatisfied, depressed, hopeless, numb, going through the motions…this is the way many describe their lives. The title of this series is “fulfilled.” What does it mean to find fulfillment? Can you have a fulfilling marriage or job? Where and how does one find fulfillment? The book of Philippians will be helpful in answering that question.  Today we will be looking at the backstory of Philippians and the life of the Apostle Paul. 


As the people of God, we must be truth tellers. Speak the truth in love: The truth about who we are. The truth about what we’ve done. The truth about where we’re headed. rThe truth about what we need. Listen with us today as Pastor Paul leads us through what Scripture tells us about these truths.

The Talion Warrior

Our passage this morning is the key passage that reveals to us that if we pray to YHWH, He can save us. For the last two weeks we have put Acts 4:12 up on the screen: There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.  This captures the message of the Exodus narrative so well. We have seen how, with both the Egyptians and the Israelites, YHWH is a God who saves and delivers. We pray this sermon will be a blessing to you as we journey through Exodus together, discovering YHWH for who He really is.

The Exodus: The Passover

YHWH is and always has been a saving God who delights in rescuing human beings from captivity—political and economic like the Israelites for sure—but far more importantly He desires to rescue people from their captivity to sin which brings death and eternal separation from Him. I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God desires all people to come to a saving knowledge of the truth. The Egyptians were so devoted to their gods and trusted them so fully that it would take ten plagues to break down their worldview so that He could lovingly reconstruct it. Join us today as we take a look at the last of the Plagues and the first Passover.

The Exodus: Moses Meets YHWH

Sermon Notes: Moses Meets YHWH

This morning as we study the book of Exodus, we are on holy ground. The passage we are studying is the passage where God, for the first time in the history of the world, introduces Himself. When we left Moses last week at the end of Exodus 2, Moses was a 40-year-old man. He married Zipporah, had children, and now we catch up with him in Exodus 3. Join us as we see what he is up to.

Discipleship Bootcamp: The Art of Spiritual Warfare

Sermon Audio:

We are in a fight. It is a battle for the possession of the human soul –  the souls of our children, our families and friends, even our enemies. Spiritual warfare is the common experience of every disciple, and God has prepared and equipped His disciples with every spiritual weapon for success. Listen to this week's sermon on The Art of Spiritual Warfare as we wrap up our Discipleship Bootcamp series.

Discipleship Bootcamp: (RE)new Our Mind

Sermon Audio:

We have a lot of words for it: we call it sin, wrong, missing the mark, disobedience, treason, selfishness, rebellion, immorality, or even insanity. This sermon today is designed to give us a set of tools, biblical tools, to deal with the sin entrenched in our hearts and minds. We pray this sermon will be a blessing to you! 

Discipleship Bootcamp: Effective & Defective Prayer

Sermon Audio:

Sermon Notes: Discipleship Bootcamp: Effective & Defective Prayer

Does God always hear us? Does He always consider your prayers? Would you like to know if God always hears you? Before we answer that question, we must first turn to a more fundamental question--what is prayer?

Discipleship Bootcamp: The Philippians 2 Shift

Sermon Audio:

Sometimes we can have the wrong attitude about the Church. We can have misconceptions and misunderstandings. Join us today as we take a look at what the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2 and how it can shift our attitudes.