Monday, October 23, 2006

We Got Trouble Right Here In River City

Intro.: I recently heard the following parable.

  1. A carpenter hired to help restore an old farmhouse had just finished up a rough first day on the job. A flat tire had made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup refused to start.

    As he rode home with a friend, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, as he walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. Then, opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

    Why the transformation? The tree in his yard was his “trouble tree.” He knew he couldn’t avoid having troubles on the job, but one thing was for sure—troubles didn’t belong in the house with his wife and children. So he just hung his troubles on the tree every night when he came home and, in the morning, picked them up again. The funny thing was that when he came out in the morning to collect his troubles, there weren’t nearly as many as he remembered hanging up the night before.1

  1. I want to look a group of people that had lots of trouble, but did not know how to handle it.

Read: Joshua 10:1-15


Trans: Map out Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Gibeon, Amorites

  1. Trouble is part of life.

(Ill.) I read a book these past couple of weeks - Paid In Blood. As I was concerned when I first started reading the book – Christian books tend to be too good. They have a reputation for being more like fairy tales than good fiction.
But as I continued to read. Before too long, I feelings changed. This book wasn't any good – after all everybody has got a problem. One man is going through a divorce, another father dies, one woman is hurting her family by the decisions she is making, and there is the single mom who is trying to raise her daughter in inner city of Chicago. And I don't want to forget the Navy man who can't seem to find satisfaction with any job in the Navy – he just keeps moving around. And these are the wearing white hats.
But as I kept reading, I remembered something that I have said many times over the last several years – both here and elsewhere: we are all broken people.

    1. That is sort of the way I feel about our study of Joshua. We seem to run into all kinds of people with problems:

      1. Moses dies and Joshua is put into a position of leadership

      2. They face battle after battle in order to get what God has promised them

      3. We meet Aichen, the thief and liar, who is directly responsible for the lost battle at Ai.

      4. And there were the Gibeonites who use deception to gain the confidence of the Israelites.

      5. And now the Gibeonites are facing an enemy of their own – five kings that feel betrayed.

(Appl.) Whether it be the book of Joshua, a Christian novel,, or in real life, I should not, we should not, be surprised at the trouble that people must face

  1. When facing problems we do not stand alone

    1. My troubles seem the darkest when I feel like I am all alone.

(Ill.) Let me give you just one example. This past summer my wife and I had offered to treat a group of four students and their spouses to a Red Wings game. Now that probably does not surprise you. But we had just returned from our trip to North Carolina and Washington, DC and I was running a fever of 102ยบ. I wasn't going to go. I was able follow the game on the radio- and it was over at 9:45. That meant that 20 minutes of fireworks were going to start in 10 minutes. That's a half hour – then 30 minutes to get home. Maybe another 15 to drop students at their homes. Sandra should be home by 11. It got to be 11:15, 11:30, 11:45. I was getting worried. I tried calling her cell – but no answer. It was almost midnight before she came home. She had gotten twisted coming out of the stadium – and then one of the students had to be dropped about 20 minutes from the college. She was okay, but I had a few rough minutes. Alone, at home, no car. Not knowing where she was.

    1. The Gibeons felt alone. They had made their own path not aligning themselves with other city states on the western shores of the Jordan river. They could not defend themselves against five other city states – it would be too much.

    2. I suspect we can guess how they felt – isolated and scared.

    3. So they turned to Joshua and the Israelites for help - “Do not abandon your servants.”

    4. Joshua moves out. Well that is not entirely true – he moves out but so does his entire army.

    5. The Gibeonites were no longer alone – they had all the people of God on their side.

(Appl.) Similarly, we must never forget, we are not alone. We have the people of God on our side.

  1. When we reach out, we have access to supernatural help

    1. I found a great deal of irony in this story.

    2. For example, the Gibeonites do not reach out to the one who really can help. They turn to Joshua, not to God

    3. And when the Gibeonites asked for Joshua's help, it really was not Joshua that replied. It was God: “Do not be afraid of them. I have given them into your hand.”

    4. And it was not Joshua, the one to whom they had appealed for help that won the day – it was God. Just as he promised.

    5. It started with hailstones and ended with an answer to prayer.

    6. Joshua needed extra time to accomplish what God had given him to do and God answered in some marvelous way.

(Ill.) I don't know how God created a long day. Some have suggested that He did it by just slowing the spinning of the earth to slow down the day. Others have suggested that He altered the laws of physics just enough to allow light to continue around the curvature of the earth and to make for a longer day. I don't know, but I do know this – God was at work in the lives of Israel, the Gibeonites, and Joshua that day.

    1. I know that some of you have stories about God working in your life. Times when he met you in some marvelous and unexpected ways.

(Appl.) And God Stands ready to meet us today – I do not the future. I have no control over what may come. I do but God does – and he is willing to meet us where and when we need Him.

1Green, 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.

2Jenkins, S. (1997, c1985). Nelson's 3-D Bible mapbook. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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