Sunday, April 29, 2007

Responding To God
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Responding to God

Intro.: Life presents a great number of options.

  1. But the decisions we make will determine where we will be in the future.

  2. A while back (actually several years back) I played the pin ball machines. I was never very good at it.

  3. And though I had some control of the ball, it also had a very random scheme. I could control only the first direction that the ball traveled – but with that bit of control, I had some control over where the ball went.

  4. But the science of physics tells me, that how I chose to hit that ball would have a great deal to say about where it went after that.

  5. In a similar way, the choices we make in life, determine where we will be in the future.

Read: Joshua 10:16-28


Trans:You know, I don't I always understand the decisions made by Joshua.

  1. Sometimes they seem harsh and I would prefer a softer approach

  2. After all, I serve a God of love.

  3. Yet as I read, I see behavior very similar to that presented by our own armies. Humiliation with the feet placed on the necks of the losing kings. The hangings of these same kings. I feel as if I am reading a current newspaper.

  4. But there is a single facts that helps me to understand these events – and the first is this: What we are reading is descriptive, it is not prescriptive. It describes what occurred, it does not necessarily serve as an absolute example

  5. Secondly, I have to remember that though these are God's people, they are also people. God's people do not always do what they ought to do.

  6. Today's passage is exactly that – it can help us understand people respond to God – they do not require that we do so.

T.S. Joshua 10:16-28 illustrates three distinct ways of responding to God.

  1. Hiding from God

    1. The Israelites had all but defeated the Amorites. And they responded.

    2. The most prominent group, the leaders, run south to a cave. And they hide.

    3. I suppose that is one way to handle life difficulties.

    4. Of course, though you think that it is helping, it really is not.

    5. First – it is offense to those who depend on you. The army for whom these kings were responsible lost their leaders. The very men who were responsible for giving them direction now were in hiding. Even when life gives us trouble, we still have people and things for which we are responsible.

(Appl.) During the 21st century, we may not hide from God in caves, but we hind in what we do. Take, for example, the parent who avoids caring for their child. They become too involved with work, they become too involved with their social live, and (for some) they become too involved with their church. And they spend increasingly less time with their children. When we avoid those things that God has given us responsibility for by putting placing secondary things first, we are hiding from God.

    1. But it is not only others that are hurt when we try to hide from God. We also hurt ourselves.

    2. I can hear someone saying now, “But Pastor Floyd, we can't hide from God. God, after all, is all seeing and all knowing. There is nothing that he does not know.”

    3. And yet we live as if we can hide our sins from God. We live as if our words make no difference. When we try to hide – we fail miserably. They say confession is good for the soul. It is true – for when we confess who we are to God, we are no longer hiding from God.

    4. When the five kings tried hiding in the cave, they thought they were safe, but they were not. Joshua had his men seal the cave. They were alive – but they would still need to face the consequences of their actions.

  1. Running From God

    1. The kings hid from God, but their army continued to run.

    2. They were not alone – one of the first Bible stories that many use heard growing up was the story of Jonah and the Whale. Though the story actually never tells us it is a whale, the truth is that Jonah is running from God.

    3. Whether it is the Amorite army or the single believer, like Jonah, running from God does no good.

(Ill.) And running from God did not stop in the Old Testament. John Bunyan wrote what one author called arguably the most famous published Christian allegory, Pilgrim's Progress. This same man once said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find him the rest of the day.”1

(Ill.) I have never been to a dog race – but the pictures I have seen include a rabbit mounted on a stick. At the start of the race, the rabbit is pulled ahead of the dogs – just far enough ahead that they will never be caught. You see, we may think we are like that rabbit and will never be caught as God chases us. But God does not work like that. He will chase you and, if he wants you, he has already caught you.

    1. Running did not help the Amorites, it will not help us.

  1. Obeying God

    1. Hiding from God does not help. Running from God does not help.

    2. But there is another option – that is obeying God.

    3. Joshua and the Israelites had God's promise which we find earlier Joshua 10:8 - And the Lord said unto Joshua, “Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thy hands; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.”

    4. The kings are trapped, but the army is running. The Israelites persue.

    5. In the middle of life it can be hard to remember and believe God's promises. After all, we spend too many hours not even dealing with them – and then when life demands that we remember what those promises are:

    6. For example, the Israelites would like these promises: No king is saved by his great army. No warrior escapes by his great strength.… But the Lord looks after those who fear him, those who put their hope in his love. He saves them from death and spares their lives in times of hunger. So our hope is in the Lord. He is our help, our shield to protect us. (Psalm 33:16, 18-20) If God is with us, no one can defeat us. He did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things. Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right. (Romans 8:31–33) The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord , your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek him. (Lamenations 3:22-25)2

    7. None of these promises had been committed to paper at the time of Joshua; yet Joshua and his men lived their lives (at least for now) knowing that God was in control.

    8. Can we do any less?


1Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (756). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

2Lucado, M., & Gibbs, T. A. (2001, 1996). God's inspirational promises (10). Nashville, TN: J. Countryman.

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