Sunday, April 22, 2007

Man's Predicament, God's Involvement
View the Video

Man's Predicament, God's Involvement

Intro.: Monday was a tough day as we began to hear the story of shootings a Virginia Tech.

  1. I had never been on the campus – but I know those kids. Their smiles, their dreams, their hopes. And the faculty were my colleagues.

  2. I work at a college – could it happen there?

  3. It was a tough day, a tough week.

  4. There were times I was near to tears.

  5. I wonder how I would cope if I were faced with such a crisis?

  6. I do not know the answer to that question – I hope I never have to find out.

  7. Today I want to look at one scripture that helps us see how one man managed a crisis.

Read: Joshua 10:1-15


Trans: In some ways, these stories from the Old Testament seem far removed from the 21st century.

  1. Yet these people carried the same emotions, the same kinds of pains, the same kinds of concerns for their lives.

  2. Though we are reading about events that took place 1400 years before Christ – We must never forget that these were men and women who could have been us.

T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at three characteristics that may help us define the events that are part of our lives.

  1. There are events in our lives over which we have no control

    1. Our passage does not start with Joshua, our passage does not even start with the Israelites. Rather it begins by looking at a group of city kings that don't want to lose control of what they had.

    2. It is one of those things Joshua had no control of.

(Appl.) Those kind of things happen to all of us. For me lat weekend it was my car. It may be our house, it may be our jobs, it may be family – or any number of other things that are part of our lives.

    1. And for Joshua it was going to be these five kings. Surprisingly, their tactic was not to go to war against against the Israelites or even against their leader, Joshua.

    2. They were going against the Gibeonites. You probably remember the Gibeonites – they were that group that deceptively won the hearts of the Israelites by dressing in dirty cloths that made it appear that they had traveled a great distance. But now they were in trouble.

(Appl.) You know it is amazing that when Satan wants to really get after those of us who are solidly grounded in the faith, he often will not go after us, but he will go after those things that are most important around us. Sometimes it is the things that hold most dear that become the center of our spiritual battles, but all too often it is the people that we care about most that will find themselves under attack. It will be our kids, it will be our spouses, it will be our friends – that are facing temptation in the worst ways imaginable.

(Ill.) Those of you who have been parents any length of time know what I am talking about – you have seen your kids struggle. You know what it is like to walk with your kids through the tough times. But the coin was flipped – when our parent's faith was at its strongest, I suspect many of you faced temptation and maybe gave in to it in ways you normally would never think of doing. But you did.

    1. Let me restate the principle – when our faith is at its strongest, we will find that those around us will face the greatest challenges.

    2. Joshua was about to face an enemy that he had not planned on; Joshua was about to face those who were attacking the very people that Joshua had sworn to protect.

  1. There are times when God expects us to be involved

    1. Joshua had two possible responses to the crisis.

      1. He could have ignored the plea for help – after all the Gibeonites had started out by deceiving the Israelites. It would be an easy matter to leave let them suffer the consequences of their decisions

      2. Or he could abide by the commitments they had made – regardless of the consequences. Joshua was a man who had received God's blessing, the kind of man who kept his commitments.

(Ill.) If you visit any large foundry where the boilers are kept going at full force, you would never be able to look into a boiler to tell how much water there is in it, but you would be able to tell how much water the boiler contains by an instrument which is attached to the side of the boiler. Alongside is a small glass tube which has some fluid in it. If this glass tube is half full of liquid, then there is an indication that the boiler is half full of water; if the glass gauge indicated that there is no water in the glass, then we can depend that there is no water in the boiler. The little glass gauge is the indicator for the large boiler. How can people tell whether we love God, our fellowman, or even ourselves? They can never look within our hearts and get the answer; it is only by our outward actions, the works that we do as Christians that people are able to tell how much or how little our religion amounts to. Our love for God is indicated by the works of love in which we engage. There are people who are constantly looking at the Christian’s gauge.1

    1. Regardless of what was going on in Joshua's heart, we can only understand Joshua's heart by how he lives, rather than by what he says. And Joshua does decide to keep his commitments and he and the Israelite army.

    2. And the war starts – the Israelites are winning, but the enemy is getting away.

    3. Joshua has done his part – now God does his part. He brings a storm – a hail storm.

    4. I've heard of golf ball or baseball size hail, but I have never seen it. I'm not sure I want to.

    5. Our passage tells us that God accomplishes more than Joshua and his army combined.

(Appl.) Here is the lesson - there are times when God will not do what he can until we do what we can. It means that as believers we need to take responsibility for our spiritual lives – if we want God to use us, then we need to be doing what he wants us to do. But it is also true for the church – if we want God to use us in this community, it means that we need to be involved as a church in our community.

    1. God wants to use us to win the people around us to Christ, but he also, as he did Joshua wants us to get started on that task.

  1. There are times when God will do what needs to be done

    1. There are times when God expects us to be involved. But there are times when God will accomplish what we could not regardless of how hard we may try.

    2. It was a long day, Joshua had done what he could do, God had contributed to the success of the battle. But there was more to do and the day was coming to an end.

    3. When it seemed that Joshua had done all he could do – he did the one thing he could do – he prayed:

O sun, stand still over Gibeon,

O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

And they did.

    1. There is no way that Joshua could have stopped the sun. There is no way he could add extra time to the day. It is only something that God could do. I do not know what happened that day. I came across a number of plausible explanations – but they all agreed, GOD WAS AT WORK and in doing so gave Joshua additional time to accomplish what he needed to do after he prayed for God's intervention.

(Ill.) The world, too often, defines a miracle as something God does outside the normal explanations given by science – hence, no miracle can be proven. But as believers a miracle is more. For the Christian a miracle is anything God does - whether within the bounds of science or not. Whether it is the gift of life in a baby, or the beauty of a rainbow, or turning water into wine – because God did it, it is a miracle.

    1. And sometimes God does things that we cannot do.

Conclusion: This may have been a tough week for many of us.

  1. But not so surprising. Things do happen over which we have no control.

  2. We have heard stories about people doing what they could do to protect those who were under attack.

  3. And there have been those who don't understand why they lived – God did what they could not do for themselves.


1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

No comments: