Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sermon - Characteristics of an All In Life - Caleb - Joshua 14:6-13

This is a sermon originally preached on April 29, 2012

Many things sound like good ideas.  Especially from a distance.  I remember when I was a kid the first time I said I was going to ride a roller coaster.  “Yes, I’m going to do it.  Nothing’s going to stop me.” 

I talked, I stood and waited in line.  I watched the cars climb and fall and heard the screams.  But I was not deterred.  Then I came to the point where it was my turn to get in the car.

What do you think happened?  I was a nervous wreck!  I was scared.  I could step down into that car or I could jump across to the other side and go down the exit.

Was I all talk and no action?  Did I really believe I would survive, that the cars wouldn’t fall off the tracks, that the safety bar would hold me in?  Was I all in?

There are several moments like that and it’s usually moments where your life is in immediate danger or your life is going to be changed significantly forever.

Sky Diving—standing on the edge of the plane’s exit.  Bunjee Jumping—trusting that bands will hold and you won’t smack into the ground.

Numerous moments in life don’t involve thrill seeking
·         How about Accepting a new Job and having to move?
·         How about having that heart surgery your doctor has said you need
·         How about confronting a friend or family member about some illegal activity, some addiction or sin?
·         How About Proposing to a Woman or Accepting a Man’s Proposal?
·         How about actually going through with the Wedding?

Maybe you’ve done some of those things in your past and you think, “Yeah, I conquered that mountain.  I don’t need to climb it again.”

Sometimes life isn’t as easy as riding a bike or getting back up on the horse.  It takes commitment to your cause, it takes believing in what you are doing, it takes overcoming the fear and hesitation, it takes not being satisfied with easy, it takes being All In

You and I need to be men and women like Caleb.

In Joshua 14 Israel had been in the Promised Land from between 5-7 years. They had already seen some major battles—the fulfillment of God’s Promise was well on its way. They had fought a Southern Campaign and a Northern Campaign—they had defeated many cities and their kings. While there were still battles in front of them, they were now at the point when they could start considering actually settling the territory. So here in Joshua 14, they began to divide the territory by tribe using lots—it was considered their inheritance.

It came time for Caleb to claim his—what he says proves he was a man who was All In on the mission.  Joshua 14:6-13

6 Characteristics of an All In Life
An All In Person

1.     Lives, Speaks & Advocates According to their Convictions
a.    Caleb knew what God could do.  He had seen and experienced it.  He didn’t let his eyes or his fears dictate what was possible, rather he understood that “nothing is impossible with God.”  With God, he was not a grasshopper going up against giants, he was a victor.
b.    He spoke his conviction—even when 10 equally prestigious men spoke against him—he did not remain silent. 
c.    This is proof that the will of God is not always determined by a Majority.
d.    He was not living to please men, but God.  Not seeking popularity, political correctness or cultural approval.
e.    He stood on his convictions in the face of opposition and ridicule.  He did not just remain silent but spoke, he reasoned, he argued and persuaded according to his convictions.
f.     He was looked down by the 10 and by the people, but he was blessed by God.
g.    Can you say the same?  Are you Living & Speaking according to your Conviction?
h.    When you are at work do you live, do you speak, do you influence according to your conviction or do you let your fear—embarrassment, rejection—keep you silent?
i.     When you are home alone without the world watching—do you let temptation get the upper hand?  Do you treat your wife or kids good in public but abuse them at home?
j.     There are many things we as believers can and should speak to in this country—let me assure you, speaking the Truth In Love will not be easy, will not win you a lot of friends.
k.    An ALL IN person is a person of Conviction.
l.     Not just any conviction is worth living for—by the way.  A conviction to earn lots of money is not it, to “live and let live” is not it, conviction for a certain political party or candidate is not it

An ALL IN person is one who
2.    Follows the LORD Wholeheartedly -  Remains Loyal
a.    WHO you follow matters.  The BASIS of your convictions and beliefs matters. 
b.    As you believe, so will you do.  If you do not do, you don’t really believe.
c.    If Caleb did not believe in God’s provision and victory—he would never have spoken.  The 10 spies did not believe, and it showed in their report.
d.    This is the kind of faith that James talks about when he says:
                                 i.    1:22—“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”
                                ii.    2:14—“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?”
                               iii.    2:17—“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.”
                              iv.    2:18—“Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
e.    If you asked the 10 spies if they believed God what do you think they would say?  YES – But did their life and actions agree with that?  NO
f.     Let ask you…
Is it possible to honor God with your lips but have your heart far from Him? 
To Talk a good Talk, but not Walk a good Walk? 
Possible to offer sacrifices, give your tithe and offering, even preach and God sees right through it to your heart?
g.    Is it possible to play the part, put on the mask of a Christian, but not really believe?
Is it possible to Follow other things, to have other loyalties other than God?
h.    Caleb followed God wholeheartedly.  He remained Loyal—while everyone else’s heart melted and dissolved.
i.     Caleb did Not follow a man like Joshua, was not loyal to the cause, not even to the new nation—but to God.
j.     God held his heart above all else.
k.    Can you say the same?  Are you following the LORD wholeheartedly?  Are you loyal to Him and Him alone or do you have divided loyalties—are you concerned about your own self interests, self preservation, your own reputation, your own pleasures—
l.     To be anything other than wholeheartedly loyal is to be an idolator!  Because you have something or someone in your heart that you value as much as or above God.
m.  You cannot compartmentalize God and say you wholeheartedly follow Him.  You cannot act one way on Sundays or in church and act another way everywhere else.  That is the essence of hypocrisy and let me assure you, God sees right through it.
n.    We look at the outward appearance.  God looks at the heart. 
o.   How would your life be different if you Followed the LORD wholeheartedly?  How would this church be different?  How would your job or your family be different?
p.    Following the LORD wholeheartedly—changes your priorities, changes your actions, changes your friends, changes how you treat people—changes what you live for, fight for, love for, die for.
q.    Those who Follow the LORD wholeheartedly are capable of so much more because they are ALL IN

An All In person is one who is
3.    Strong in the Faith – powerful even FIERCE
a.    Have you ever heard of a sports team—that everyone said was Soft?  It wasn’t that they were not strong or incapable—but they were not Fierce—they are not willing to fight hard—to do what was necessary to win.
b.    Our life with the Kingdom of God is not a walk in the park—it requires tenacity, it requires a get tough attitude.
c.    How many people do you know who are FIERCE in their faith?  How would we be different?
d.    Types of Strength
                                 i.    Conviction
                                ii.    Consistency
                               iii.    Character & Integrity
                              iv.    Boldness—not shy or hesitant or unwilling—this
                                v.    Adventurous
                              vi.    Stand your ground—temptation
                             vii.    Uphold Truth – doctrinally—when presented with error or a cult group that knocks at your door
                            viii.    Fighting for the Kingdom of God
                               ix.    Willingness to Speak Truth that Hurts
                                x.    Willingness to Accept Consequences
                               xi.    Willingness to Be a Peacemaker or to Turn the Other Cheek—it is easier to strike back, easier to return insult for insult
e.    My strength for battle and for daily tasks k Lit for going out and coming in is now as it was then.
f.     Strength of the faith-- Some of you have been believer’s for many years—are you strong in the faith?  Are you mature, confident in what you believe and why you believe it?  Paul, Peter and the author of Hebrews recognized this need to call people to maturity, growth and strength in the faith.
                                 i.    Hebrews 5:11-6:1--We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity

                                ii.    1 Cor. 3:1-3a--Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly.
                               iii.    1 Pet 2:2--Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation
g.    Are you strong, powerful or even Fierce in the faith?
h.    Can you express it with words, can you teach it?  Do you know how to wield the weapon we have called the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God?
i.     Can you go to battle in prayer and truly intercede for someone or truly intercede for your family, your church, your community, your nation?  Do you even know how?
j.     If your supply preacher didn’t show up one Sunday morning are there any of you who could stand and share a word from Him?

An All In person is one who is

4.   Vigorous to Battle for the Kingdom of God – for the Gospel
a.    An all in person is strong in the faith and they are also willing, even eager to put that strength to use.  They are a coiled spring, they are the hot iron with steam sitting on the ironing board.
b.    Their faith is not an afterthought—they want to put it into action.  The strength, the muscles that have built up must be used otherwise something happens to them
c.    What happens to the new irons if they sit still for too long?
d.    What happens to machines or tools in storage for too long?
e.    I just took my lawnmower out of storage.  It had been there a while. I had to replace the fuel line and the gas tank in order to get it to work.
f.     If you do not fan into flame the gift of God, if you do not use it or put it to use—it will go out.  The gift, the talent, if you bury it in the ground you run the risk of losing what you have.
g.    God has gifted you, not to be idle but to be vigorous. 
h.    Caleb is Willing to go to the front lines, His conviction, His strength moves him to WANT to serve.  The thought of being idle offends him.
i.     Does it you?  Are you vigorous in your Desire to serve the King of the Universe or are you content for others to do it? 
j.     If you are ALL IN, you are not content to sit on the sidelines.

5th, the sign of someone being all in is that they

5.    Ask for the Tough Assignments
a.    Caleb asks for the Hill Country, He asks for the territory where the Anakites lived, who are bigger than the Israelites, who 40 years ago had scared Israel off.  They are bigger and they have fortified cities.
b.    He was the type of man who wanted to take on the Reigning Champion, the schoolyard bully, the kind of job that everyone else avoided—that’s what he wanted.
c.    He wanted to count.  He wanted his life, his service, his strength to go toward something important.
d.    Because the greater the challenge, the greater the obstacle and opposition… the greater the Victory!
e.    Age makes no difference in serving God or accomplishing things by His power. 
f.     I love Caleb’s Speech—85 year old man
g.    I am still strong—I am just as ready to do what God has called me to do—don’t discount me b/c I’m old—don’t you think for a moment that I want to kick back and take it easy. Time has not weakened my resolve—doubt has not crept into my heart. Age hasn’t in any way diminished my desire to Follow the LORD my God wholeheartedly.

I am finally getting to see God do what I always knew He would do and I want to be a part of it—you cannot hold me back. I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

In fact—whatever is the tough job—I want it. Whatever task is making all these young whippersnappers quake in their boots, whatever battle they are avoiding—give it to me—I’ll show them what a heart devoted to God to do—I’ll show them—give me the high country!

I don’t care what giants are before me, I’m not interested in avoidance and excuses. Don’t tell me we can’t whip the Anakites with their large and fortified cities, I’ve seen the walls of Jericho fall—but before than—I saw the Red Sea part, I saw Egypt bow to my Almighty God. Give me the High country—with the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as He said!

h.    We Need More People in the church with this kind of attitude—this kind of Fierceness.
i.     Do you want to take on Hard & Difficult things?  Does your church want to take on the hard things?
j.     Do you see the task of reaching the people here for Christ as too difficult?
k.    Too many of our churches are like a military unit with low morale, who have not trained with their weapons and equipment, not truly engaged the enemy in years and now can barely recognize him, much less how to defend against him or take the battle to him.
l.     So we have become soft and so we wonder why our culture has declined, why our nation is weakening, why our churches are dwindling.

I wonder whether we are All In.  It comes down to what we believe—the sixth characteristic is the one that moves us to action.

An All In person
6.    Truly Believes the Lord will Help them and Provide the victory

a.    Caleb believed that… that’s why he asked for the High Country with Confidence.
b.    We should be just as ready and eager as Caleb to enter into this battle—even moreso—b/c it’s not about killing people, but about Saving them. Our battle today is not about destroying, but about bringing to life. That is the kind of battle I want to be a part of, the kind worth giving my life for.
c.    The Gospel is the High Country—the hard and impossible mission God has given to you and me to take on
d.    Entering in to a fortified enemy territory to rescue those held captive.  The Lost coming to a saving relationship with Jesus—your friends, your family, your neighbors & co-workers.  The person you don’t like much, who annoys you, who struggles with an addiction, the one who hides their shame with a pretty face,
e.    It is an impossible mission without the empowering work of God, without the LORD’s help. 
f.     If you truly believe that, you will ask for it, pray for it, desire it and do it.

God is not asking you to do anything He is not Willing to Do.

God is a Mission Sending God and He took on that Hard and seemingly impossible mission Himself.

Jesus was strong & vigorous for the Kingdom, for the Gospel.  He saw the fortified strongholds of the world, the hearts hardened by addictions, by pain, by sin; He saw the High places of Idolatry where we put things above our worship of God. 

Jesus Wept over the hardness of Heart, He drove out those corrupting worship in the Temple, He condemned false teachers and legalists—knowing that it would get Him killed.
Jesus knew how hard the task was to redeem you, Knew it would cost Him His life—and said, “Give Me the High Country!” 

The High Country where this battle needed to be fought was Jerusalem!

He Resolutely Set His Face Toward Jerusalem—Luke 9:51—“As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus Resolutely set out for Jerusalem” – he turned with strength or determination.

Jesus volunteered for the task of rescuing you and me from the High Country where we were held captive.

Jesus had moments testing and confirming whether He was ALL IN for our Salvation
At His Birth—setting aside eternity and omnipotence—emptying Himself and becoming a servant—Philippians 2

At His Baptism & Temptation—taking up the mission—knowing what it would cost, not taking the easy way out or being turned to some other mission

His Burden at Gethsemane – the more opportune time that Satan was waiting for

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