Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sin Effects . . .

Intro.: Do you remember the old fashion telephone booths?

  1. You don't find them too often any more. With the availability of cheap cell phones and the willingness that merchants have for letting someone use a phone in an emergency – they just don't make enough money for the phone company.

  2. But Lillian Pearsall worked as a telephone operator for the phone company back when they were more popular. One time a customer talked overtime on a long-distance call from a pay telephone booth. Even with my friendly reminders, he refused to deposit his overtime coins. Instead, he slammed down the phone, irate and verbally abusive. A few seconds later, he was back on my line-somewhat calmer. "Operator, please let me out of the phone booth-I'll pay, I'll pay, just let me out!" The customer mistakenly thought I had control of the phone booth's doors and had locked him in! He gladly paid the overtime charge and with my advice gave the booth door a hefty kick to free himself.1

  3. It may be a humorous story, but there is a lesson for us. Sin has its consequences.

  4. I want to take a few moments this morning explore some of the consequences of sin

Read: Joshua 7:1-15


Trans: Almost due west of Jericho lies the town of Ai.

  1. Joshua sent spies out and they reported that it would not take as many men to conquer Ai as it did Jericho

  2. But the first battle was lost

  3. And it was because of the sin of one man.

T.S. I want to look at four groups that were effected by one man's sin as we study Joshua 7:1-15.

  1. Sin effects our culture and nation

    1. We too often fall into the trap of thinking that sin is personal – it doesn't effect anyone else but me.

    2. But Joshua immediately makes it clear that it has an impact on not just the sinner by on the community as well.

    3. The New International Version puts it this way: But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things. But the Hebrew has a very unique way of putting this together. If you could read Hebrew, you would see that this says that the Israelites “ma-al ma-al”. Though the expression is usually translated as they “acted unfaithfully”, in reality the Hebrew says they were “unfaithfully unfaithful.” It had to clear that the community was responsible for Achan's sin.

    4. Joshua and his leaders understood this principle – Joshua tore off his clothes and fell face down in God's presence The rest of the leaders went one step further – they also sprinkled dust on their heads. You see, when one member of the community sinned, the whole community shared the responsibility.

(Ill.) We can see that further – the Israelites faced defeat as they sought to take the city of Ai. They lost that battle – Joshua says the hearts of the people melted and became like water. It is an interesting expression – for it is almost the exact same words that Rahab used to describe Jericho's reaction when they knew the Israelites were coming.

(Appl.) There is a lesson for us here. Too often we think of sin as a way of showing how strong we are. I'm mean, I'm tough. I can do what I want want to do. But in the end it leaves our hearts weak – melted like water. We end up being less strong. We may be able to show that I can do what I want; on the other hand, we may find ourselves less able to do what I need to do.

  1. Sin effects our family

    1. In some ways, I don't even have to say a great deal about the implact sin has on our families.

    2. And you don't need to hear me say it one more time. Our parents, our children, and maybe even when we look real closely at ourselves – we know that one person's sin can greatly influence a family.

(Ill.) In high school I remember doing some experiments in a Physics class where we would take a liquid (water, alcohol, or oil) and let stand still it was perfectly still. Then we would take an eye dropper and drop a single drop into the middle of the container. We would then watch and measure how the waves would ripple out to the edge of the container. At first the waves were larger, but then they would then get smaller as they moved away from the drop point.

Sin is like that – it starts out small, but it gets bigger and bigger. It will touch an awful lot of people that you may never know. Amazingly, it is not only sin that works that – so do the blessings that we share with others around us.

  1. Sin effects the one who sins

    1. Sin does effect our communities and it does effect our families. It also effects the one who sins.

    2. When someone sins, when we sin, we are changed. Every time we say “yes” to sin, the easier it is to say “yes” to sin in the future

(Ill.) Near Watsonville, California, there is a creek that has a strange name: Salsipuedes Creek. Salsi puedes is Spanish for “Get out of it, if you can.” The creek is lined with quicksand, and the story is that many years ago, in the early days of California, a Mexican laborer fell into the quicksand. A Spaniard, riding by on a horse, saw him and yelled out to him, “Salsi puedes!” which was not very helpful. The creek has been so named ever since. That is what the flesh is like. We struggle to correct these tendencies—to get out of the effects of our sinful nature—but we cannot do it.2

  1. Sin effects God

(Ill.) Perhaps you remember the story of David and his sin with Bathsheba. You will remember that he was confronted by Samuel the prophet about his sin. Do you remember David's response he finally realized the terrible nature of his adultery? It was at that point that David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

    1. You see, sin may impact our communities, it may effect our families, it may even effect us. But that is not the problem.

    2. The real problem is that it is God who is offended when we sin.

(Ill.) John Chrisostom lived at the end of the fourth century after Christ's death. Serving as the bishop of Constantinoble, he was known for his wisdom and eloquence – in fact his name means “golden mouth”. Writing nearly 1600 years ago in a work entitled “On Marriage and Family Love”, Chrysostom reminds us that we have nothing to fear except the possibility of offending God.3

    1. It is only the one that is offended that can offer forgiveness – and through Jesus, we are offered forgiveness.

(Appl.) There are two lessons for us here. First, we are offered forgiveness – we have to accept it, but God does offer us. The one who is offended more than any other, reaches out and says, I will forgive. You only need to respond. There is another lesson for us as well. Even as God offers us forgiveness, we need to offer it to those who offend us. We will be offended – and when we are we need to be willing to forgive.

Conclusion: Sin has its consequences.


1Rowell, E. K. (2005). 1001 Quotes, Illustrations, & Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

2Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

3Discipleship Journal : Issue 89. 1999 (electronic ed.). Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I Don't Understand

Intro.: Madeline Murray O'Hare is one of the most well-known athiests ever to live.

  1. But as a young person she attended a Presbyterian church.

  2. Years later, the current pastor of her former church had an opportunity to sit down with Ms. O'Hare. As part of that conversation he asked her why she had so thoroughly rejected the church.

  3. She replied that there were two reasons – first she was bothered by the hypocrisy that she saw in the church – Christians behaving badly.

  4. But she said that there was something else – it was the cruelty and violence she saw in the scripture. She put the question this way, “How could a God of love, allow such atrocities in the very book he was responsible for?”

  5. I want to look at one such passage today.

Read: Joshua 6:21-27


Trans:Madeline Murray O'Hare was not the only person to be bothered by the troublesome passages found in scripture.

  1. But I would be amiss, if we did not spend some time discussing the issues that surround these passages.

  2. I want, in the next few minutes, to look at four principles that can help us understand and respond to these difficult passages.


  1. Four principles

    1. The God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament

      1. There are those who would like us to think that the difference between the OT and the NT is the maturing of the human race.

      2. They would argue that the NT culture that spawned the books from Matthew to Revelation was, well, a different culture.

      3. That presents a problem – it suggests that scripture is more a human book – written to human standards.

      4. Yet scripture uniformly claims that it is the word of God.

(Ill.) I was reading about the manufacturing of US currency. They put all kinds of effort to prevent countfeiting. Some of them you probably know – the top secret paper that is used to print the paper is said to be 75% cotton and 25% linen with red and blue silk fibers. There is, of course, the strip going through the paper, And there is a watermark reproduction of the portrait on the larger bills. But did you know that there is also a couple of hidden features in our bills. First, there is a fluorescent chemical in them that when held under a UV light they shimmer. And the very last part of the manufacturing process is to run the bills between two high-pressure rollers that provide a uniform thickness that cannot be imitated.

Scripture also contains proofs of his status as God's word – whether it be its accuracy compared to other ancient writings, its fulfilled prophecies, its scientific accuracy, and verification in history. i

      1. Scripture clearly shows God as being present in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. John begins his gospel the same way that Moses began the book of Genesis - “In the beginning, God...

(Appl.) Because God is the same in the OT and the NT, we can trust what it says.

    1. God chooses to take an active part in our world – both when we are good and when we are bad

      1. God has been actively interacting with his creation since its beginning. We can read about his interaction with his individuals throughout history.

      2. There are those who think that God created the world, and then set it loose.ii “Classical deism holds that God created the world by setting it into motion, but does not actively intervene in it.”

(Ill.) In the midst of the enlightenment, when deism was spreading rapidly, Voltaire proclaimed that within twenty-five years the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. Forty years after his death in 1778, the Bible and other Christian literature were being printed in what had once been Voltaire’s very own home!

      1. Amazingly, God interacts with his people whether they are being obedient or not. We are not surprised when God is present when things are going well, but it must be noted that God is also present when His people are disobeying.

(Ill.) Theologically, we speak of God as being omniscient or all-knowing, omnipotent or all-powerful, and omnipresent or always-present.

(Appl.) We normally do not have problems with the first two – God is all knowing and all-powerful. But I wonder if we really believe that God is always present. I mean, it seems that when we are going through our dry times that we most often think that God is not present. Or if we find it easy to lie or some other sin, do we forget that God is there. Omnipresent leaves not exceptions – God is always there, he is always present.

    1. God is just – both in the OT and in the NT

      1. The last of the two principles focus on God's character. In both the OT and the NT we see God's justice.

      2. God hates sin – not the sinner, but sin. In the OT we see the principle applied as the Israelites face nation after nation. In the NT the principle is restated – “the wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23

      3. Perhaps you remember the story of Anaias and Saphira in Acts. They had agreed to share all they had with the church. But that's not what they did. Instead they kept part of it for themselves. On the night that the apostles challenged their behavior, they died. The wages of sin is death.


He that falls into sin is man.

He that grieves at sin is a saint.

He that boasts of sin is a devil.

He that forgives our sin is God.iii

    1. God is also a God of grace – both in the OT and in the NT

      1. And that reminds us that God is not only just, he is also full of grace.

      2. We looked last week at Rahab – the most unlikely recipient of God's grace. She had placed her faith in God – we even conjectured that if the other residents in Jericho had turned to God, they too would have been spared.

      3. Isaiah remindes us that “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

      4. When our broken bodies, when our broken hearts, when our broken souls are touched by the grace of God, we will never be the same.

      5. If we are bothered by some of the horrible things that have taken place in God's name, we must also be surprised by the grace that God bestows on an undeserving world.

Conclusion: Have we answered all the possible questions that you or someone may ask?

  1. No - but the four principles covered here are begin to provide a balance that helps to understand.


iHurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (15). Dallas: Word Publishers.


iiiGreen, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lessons From Jericho

Intro.: I remember as a eight-old child having a brilliant idea for getting to space.

  1. My eight year old mind felt that we could get to space by using weather balloons.

  2. Now that was not the amazing part of this story.

  3. The amazing part is that my dad was the chef in the officer's mess on the nearby army base.

  4. He arranged for me, an eight year old boy, to stop by the home of the commanding officer's home to explain my brilliant idea.

  5. I think it was the only time I ever met a real life commander.

  6. Today – we will meet a real life general. In fact we will meet two – the commander of the Lord's army and Joshua, the commander of the Israelite army.

Read: Joshua 5:13 - 6:5


Trans: There are several ways to study the Bible

  1. There are times when we might just look at the use of a word in scripture – we might understand “love” by doing this kind of study.

  2. There are times when a passage address a very specific issue – this would be the Psalms or the letters of Paul. We can spend time seeing what the writer wants to say about his topic

  3. But when we get a glimpse of history, the writer is not focusing a topic, but on an event or person. Just as our life is composed of many elements – so were the people we see in scripture.

  4. This is the way we will approach our subject today.

T.S. I want to look at three lessons that we can get from the circumstances surrounding the capture of Jericho.

  1. What does the world fear?

    1. I wonder what it wold have been like to life in Jericho – here come the Israelites. You have, of course, heard rumors of how they had conquered city after city on the west side of the Jordan River, but no one has yet to face the Israelites on the East side. So they have closed up their city. The gates are locked. Soldiers are stationed along the upper battlements so they can report on all that is happening.

    2. But at the same time God is doing two things in Joshua's life.

    3. First, God is preparing his heart for battle. As Joshua prepares to move toward Jericho, he finds a man prepared for battle standing in his path. Joshua, the general, asks the expected question - “Friend or foe?” The answer comes quickly enough - “Neither, I am here as commander of the Lord's army.” Important to know that the Commander of the Lord's army ir really the Lord Himself.

    4. Joshua responds appropriately enough – he falls to the ground. The man reminds Joshua that he is on holy ground – and Joshua removes his shoes.

    5. How do we connect these two events – Jericho closing its doors and Joshua meeting the commander of the Lord's army. I think the connection is here – The people of Jericho feared the wrong thing. You see their battle was not with the Israelites – rather their battle was with the Lord. It was not Joshua that was going to be their undoing – it was the work of the Lord that they really had to fear. As we shall see in a few minutes, if they really feared the Lord, they would have nothing to fear.

(Appl.) It really is not too different today. We live in a culture that fears Christians – they are afraid to let us pray, they are afraid to let us worship, they are afraid to let us tell others what we believe. Do you know what they really fear need to fear – God. Like the people of Jericho, they do not know God and so they fear His people.

  1. Obedience is the key

    1. God was shaping Joshua's heart – by allowing Joshua to meet Him on holy ground.

    2. But as God met Joshua that day, he was also going to give him instructions – they tell me that most military people would find these instructions to be silly. Why in the world would anyone plan on marching around a city, not once, not twice, not even three times, but seven times.

    3. But that is what God said to do. And Joshua was going to listen.

(Ill.) Lucy, of the Peanuts comic strip, tells Charlie Brown that she has to read a book but doesn’t want to. Would he please read it to her? “Read it yourself,” he says. She replies that reading takes effort and she hates anything that takes effort. Charlie wisely says that listening takes effort, too. But, Lucy retorts, she wasn’t going to listen.

How often we are like Lucy. Shamefully, some of us don’t want the Bible taught. Others want it taught, but not at a level that will provoke thought, action, or change. That is bad. But to want it taught while we sit and not really listen is worse still. The worst of all is to listen—and not obey. Jesus left no doubt. Only those who listen to the Word, obey what they hear, and produce its fruit are acceptable to him. Since we believe in his absolutes, we absolutely believe in hearing and doing the Master’s will.1

    1. And that is what Joshua did – he listened and obeyed. It may have seen. His people may have wondered what was going on, the residents inside of Jericho may have wondered what was going on. But God had no doubts about what was going on.

  1. God keeps his promises

    1. God had two promises to keep.

    2. One of those was to the people of Israel. He was to protect them and give them the city of Jericho.

    3. And seven days later, this is what happened. I have heard stories that walking around loosened the foundation – so that when the seventh day came, the stones naturally fell. Others have suggested that the Israelites marching around the wall was designed to confuses the people of Jericho. They kept expecting a charge, but it never happened.- not on the first day, not on the second day, not on the third day. And when it finally came, Jericho was caught by surprise.

    4. I really don't know what happened 3400 years ago – I do know that God kept his promise and the city of Jericho was destroyed by the Israelites – as promised by God.

    5. Bu there was another promise made. And that promise was to a woman with a very poor reputation – Rahab. You will remember she was responsible for hiding the spies that had come from Israelites. She asked for protection for herself and her family and it was offered.

    6. It was the one person who understood what it meant to fear the Lord. I can't help but wonder if the city had turned to God for protection like Rahab, would he have spared the whole city.

(Ill.) At the beginning of the 20th century one of the names that you would have heard mentioned in the business section of your daily paper was John Wanamaker. Wanamaker is the founder of one of the first, if not the first, department stores in the United States. In 1889 he was named the postmaster general of the United States. While serving in that position, he issued the very first commemorative stamp. He began to lay the foundation for free, rural mail delivery – though it would be years before it was fully implemented.2 At the same time he ran a Sunday School program that had several thousand students.

Someone asked John Wanamaker: “How do you get time to run a Sunday school with your four thousand scholars, in addition to the business of your stores, your work as Postmaster-General, and other obligations?” Instantly Mr. Wanamaker replied: “Why, the Sunday school is my business! All other things are just things. Forty-five years ago I decided that God’s promise was sure: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'”

    1. Israel believed God's promises, Joshua believed God's promises, Rahab believed God's promises. So can we.



1Hurley, V. (2000, c1995). Speaker's sourcebook of new illustrations (electronic ed.) (136). Dallas: Word Publishers.