Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sermon--7/8/07--Joshua: Laying the Foundation for Crossing Over to Victory

Laying the Foundation for Crossing Over to Victory

How many of you have ever read something about a famous person like an article or a biography? Which would you rather read about: “A Man of Victory: How One Man Changed the Course of a Nation” OR “A Man of Mediocrity: How One Man Went Unnoticed for 58 Years”. What draws us to read about someone’s life is their fame or extraordinary accomplishments. Any biographer will tell you that you won’t learn very much about a person if you only read about their life after they became famous. It is vital to discover the background of a person before their fame or fortune.For Example—If all I wanted to learn about George W. Bush or Bill Clinton what happened to them after they became President, I would be missing a great deal of who they are, what kind of person they are or what values they have. I’d miss what made these men into the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.

What is it that makes people great leaders? What is it that makes a person come up from obscurity to leading a great nation?

Too often, when you or I want to learn about people like Joshua we make the mistake of turning to the book of Joshua and begin there. Yes, I said mistake.

If you wanted to know what kind of man Joshua was, you need to look at his life before he became the leader of Israel. Joshua didn’t just appear out of nowhere to lead the people of Israel

. He was in the background for over 40 years.

What helped make him into a great leader and passionate servant of God was the fact that he was Mentored.

He was able to learn what it meant to be a leader by watching and being close to Moses.

Moses laid the groundwork in Joshua’s life that allowed Him to Crossover the Jordan later. He learned that all the Battles belong to the Lord—he learned that he needs a commitment to righteousness and holiness because it’s so easy to drift from it—he learned to desire a Passionate relationship with God above all else. Moses deliberately kept Joshua close and invested in him for over 40 years. Joshua would not have been the great leader that we read about without Moses’ influence

For us to Crossover, for us to experience the victory in our lives and in our church—we need to learn these lessons ourselves.

Joshua got to see Moses at his good times and at his bad. He probably saw him wake up in the morning with bad hair, if his beard was anything like Charlton Heston’s—imagine what that would look like after a rough night up on the mountain.

Joshua would have seen Moses walk all around the desert and stub his toe, seen him get frustrated and tempted to take it out on someone else, seen him lose his temper, seen him accept God’s discipline. In all those things, Moses was Joshua’s mentor; laying the foundation for future victory even in the little things. How Moses responded to all the daily situations with his faith taught Joshua as much as any deliberate teaching or sermon

William George Jordan-“Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or evil-the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life.”

Moses had that influence on Joshua’s life.

So let’s take a look at Joshua’s life before he became the leader of Israel

First Meeting—

The first time we meet Joshua in the Bible is when the Amelekites attacked the Israelites. READ Ex. 17:8-16. Joshua was obviously old enough and respected enough to become a military leader of the people. He was at least over 20 years old. Joshua obeyed Moses’ order and fought back.

But the victory was not won because of Joshua’s strength or tactics. The Israelites won only so long as Moses was able to keep his hands raised in Prayer and Praise of God. I’m sure Joshua noticed when he was losing and when he was winning. It’s not as if Joshua had nothing to do with the outcome of the battle, but early on in his service to the nation, Joshua realized that a physical battle must be won by the power of God, not just tactics or numbers. The battle is as much a spiritual conflict, a spiritual issue. Joshua saw first hand by the ministry of Moses that success is based upon a relationship with the One true God.

Have you learned that lesson? We face battles everyday; physically-when friends, family, co-workers make life difficult, maybe finances are causing pressure, maybe someone is lying to you, pressuring you to make a decision. These physical battles wear even on our spirit.

And there are unique spiritual battles as well—temptation is the most common--the temptations from Satan and the flaming arrows of the evil one. He also tries to make us afraid, to silence us, to distract us, to keep us busy, sometimes Satan attacks those we love. The spiritual is often the where the true battle is being fought because our struggle “is not [just] against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I know that each one of you have had times of victory and times of defeat. I have too. There are times when we need to learn from each other, younger believers need to learn from more mature believers and how they have come through hard battles. Older believers can learn from younger the new battles they face or even how they should have faced a battle years ago but chose the wrong path.

Those of you who have come through many battles can all probably testify that their times of true victory is when their hearts were raised to God in Prayer & Praise and they were given over to Him.

Only then can the battles we face in life be won.

Joshua learned this and became a Man of Action because he was Mentored by Moses, he witnessed that the Battle Belongs to the Lord by watching him in times of adversity.

Second Meeting-- Ex. 24:13, 32:17, 33:11

The Second Time we meet Joshua is in Exodus 24. According v. 9, we see that Moses, his brother Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the 70 elders of Israel went and met with God on Mt. Sinai. But they were to worship at a distance and only Moses was to approach. In v. 12, God calls Moses and says… “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.”

I had always thought that Moses made this trip by himself

And then we see something telling in v. 13-“Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God.” Joshua had graduated from a military leader to the personal aide of Moses. Aside from Moses, no one else was able to ascend the mountain. Moses was meeting with God face to face and somewhere nearby was Joshua.

I don’t believe that Joshua went as far as Moses but clearly, Joshua went further than anyone else. And he did go far enough with Moses not to be able to see or understand what was going on down in the Israelite camp at the base of the mountain.

Look at ch. 32. During the incident of the Golden Calf while Moses was on the mountain for 40 days, the people engaged in all kinds of “revelry” as v. 6 states. From his vantage point, Joshua could hear people shouting but could not figure out why.

That is why he described it in v. 17 as, “there is the sound of war in the camp.” But Moses knew otherwise, “it was not the sound of victory nor the sound of defeat, it is the sound of singing that I hear”. They were having a party, combining adultery and idolatry together.

Joshua was allowed to be close to Moses and the Mountain of God. He also got to see how quickly people can fall into wickedness and depravity. He had a choice that day, to welcome the depravity or to choose God and His standards of righteousness and freedom.

When Moses said in v. 26-“whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” Joshua still had to choose what he was going to do in that moment. He could have walked away and joined in the revelry. But he saw something in Moses—he was among those that chose God. He was able to see in the life and passion of Moses a commitment to God, a commitment to righteousness and a commitment to holiness.

Without a commitment to righteousness and holiness, we will quickly abandon both. This world makes it so easy.

And from that experience, we are able to see Joshua’s growing passion to be in the presence of God. He wanted to remain as close to the Glory of God as he could.

To see that growing passion to be as close to God as you can, let’s look at the Third Meeting found in ch. 33:7—READ 7-11

Moses would go and speak to the LORD, “face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” But notice that when Moses left the Tent of Meeting to return to the camp, Joshua did not leave the tent.

Many would argue that Joshua stayed so he could guard the Tent of Meeting, this may very well be true. But I have a hard time believing the Israelites, who were afraid to touch the foot of a mountain would be willing to violate the Tent. I believe Joshua’s greater desire was to stay at the Tent of Meeting so he could stay as close to the Presence of God as possible.

This was where the action was—the Presence of God—it is where the whole course of the universe is set and laid out—it is here from His mind that we are let in on the plan and direction and purpose of God. Worship and Prayer take us into God’s presence—I read this week that one of the greatest hindrances to hearing from God is the fact that we’re not praying—“those who talk with God most, usually hear God best. And those who do not talk to God often usually do not hear him at all.”—Transitions pg. 35—we are opening the door of conversation in our praises and our prayers.

We have unlimited access to the Throne of God through the blood of Christ—but do we take advantage of it? Do you want to be as close to God as you can? Are you even willing to give up things that you might find enjoyable so you can spend time with God? Can people see that passion to be in God’s presence when they look at your life?

When you value a relationship, you spend as much time as possible cultivating it and making it grow. Grandparents, how many of you when given the chance go out of your way to spend time with your grandkids? I know my parents in Palestine, TX are almost sick that they are so far away from Gabriel & Moriah.

Joshua did not want to leave the Tent of Meeting. He wanted that relationship and that closeness to God to grow and mature because nothing else in this world could satisfy his heart like God could. He saw that in the heart of his mentor, and he wanted it to be a part of his heart too.

Please keep in mind that your passion for God, or lack there of is contagious. When our desire for God is not what it should be, everyone can tell. If you have kids in the home, no one will be able to see your desire better than they do. Even without trying, we are still mentoring because people are still watching.

The question I have for you today is how do you want to influence people? If you knew that someone looked to you and would never grow more in their faith or have a greater passion for God than you, would you be excited or ashamed?

If your passion for God is not what it should be—if our church’s desire for Him is lukewarm—if I feel like it-- I implore you to come to this altar and ask God to place the desire for His presence in your life.

If you truly desire Revival in Macomb, in your life, in the life of UBC, then it must begin with you. Any Victory we hope to have is fully and completely dependent on God to move and work and act on our behalf. We must also have a commitment to Holiness and Righteousness in our own lives to the point that we rail against the sin in our own lives more than we do the sins and struggles in others. And we must have a burning desire for the Presence and Movement of God. I hope it is your desire to see God move in a powerful way in your life, in the life of those you love, and in our community.

Joshua went to a high mountain when he first followed his Mentor into the Presence & Glory of God. But we don’t have to climb a mountain to be in His presence, we have to go down on our knees and open our hearts to Him. There is No Higher Calling than to be in His Presence.

Let the Presence of God draw you to Him. Come this morning and let God know you are serious about your relationship with Him. Ask God to use you and to show you where He wants to use you.

Follow His lead in Baptism if you never decided to do so—follow His lead in joining this church if He is calling you. Surrender to His calling, surrender to His love. Come and allow Him to place His arms around you, come and meet Him face to face.

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