Sunday, May 06, 2007

Living In A Difficult World

Living in a Difficult World

Intro.: I wish I understood a great deal about God.

  1. When I get to heaven there are questions I will want to ask.

    1. Some might seem silly – why does it have to get so cold in winter?

    2. Some are a bit more serious – why did you choose me, of all people, to be a pastor?

    3. Then some might be really hard – why in the world did so-n-so get sick, why did I get this dumb disease. Why are there wars, why do some people hurt more than others.

  2. During the next few minutes, I want to look at some answers to the difficult passages in the book of Joshua.

Read: Joshua 10:40-43


Trans: Two weeks ago we gave two parts of the answer.

  1. Joshua is descriptive, not prescriptive.

  2. Though Joshua focuses on the people of God, it does focus on people.

T.S. Let me suggest three myths that make the events of Joshua difficult for us to accept.

  1. Myth One – God is like us

    1. As a believer, I cannot get away from it.

    2. There are times that it might be easier to walk away from the kinds of descriptions given here

    3. Yet it is clear that God was involved in all that stated here.

    4. There is a problem – but it is not God. The problem is this, we expect God to be like us, rather than requiring that we be like God

    5. It is important to remember that God is not required to live by our rules. We can spend a lot energy trying to define what God should be like, but that's not fair – only God can define himself.

(Ill.) As part of my counseling training at the University of Nebraska, we studied the characteristics of an unhealthy relationship. One of the characteristics of such a relationship is imposing my expectations on another person. I can illustrate from my own marriage. Most of you know that 20 years ago, my wife and I were going through a tough, tough time. You have heard me say that both Sandra and I wanted the other one to leave. It was a dark time.
Part of what turned our marriage around came when we allowed each other to be what we were. For me that meant allowing Sandra to leave if she wanted. You know what, when I let Sandra be who she needed to be, our marriage started to change.

(Appl.) The same is true in our relationship with God. We need to let God be God.

  1. Myth Two – The original inhabitants were good

    1. There is another myth – that myth is the the original inhabitants of the Holy Land were good.

    2. Here were a people that worshiped multiple gods. They practiced human sacrifice, The practice of their religion included lewd and immoral practices – that could easily have ingrained itself into the Jewish faith – this religion had to be cutout, much like some cancers have to be removed from the body. 1 and 2

    3. At the same time, Biblically, it is not a difficult statement to make. Paul makes it clear in the book of Romans: What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one. 3

    4. Of course that also includes us – there is a piece of me that wants to think that I am pretty good. But God says “no”. I am not pretty good. I am not even somewhat good – no one is good.

    5. And the wages of sin is death.4 You see, because I am not good, I do deserve to die. It is the natural consequence of sin.

(Ill.) If you had lived in the first years of the 17th century in the Netherlands you would have faced the beginnings of the controversy that divided those of us that who are Methodist and those who claim the title Calvinist. A conference was called in the Dutch city of Dordt to resolve the issues – an event which did not occur. However, the conference did write an expression of Calvinism that has survived to this day. Though there were a number of differences between the Methodists and the Calvinist, they did agree on the first point:

Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). 5

    1. I deserve exactly what was happening to the Amorites and the Canaanites and the others that occupied the Promised Land.

    2. If we are offended, it ought not be because of what happened to the people Joshua was conquering. We should be offended because the same thing has not happened to us.

    3. So why has the same thing not happened to us – it can be summed up in one word: GRACE. God, by has grace, loves us so much that he allows us to find our way – and if possible, find our way to Him.

(Appl.) The events in Joshua should not drive us away from God, but allow us to love him more than ever. The greatest saints – the Wesleys, the Calvins, the Grahams, all understood this. They knew they deserved death, and they knew it was God's grace that allowed them to serve. Are you being driven to God?

  1. Myth Three – God showed no grace

    1. If we are convinced that we deserve what these people got. And if we are convinced that it is only by the grace of God that we do not, a natural question presents itself: why did God not show grace to these people who live in the Holy Land?

    2. Let me suggest that this is the third myth – that God showed them no grace.

    3. Let me suggest that there are at least three distinct times that God did show grace.

      1. First there was Rahab and her family. It would be hard for many of us to show the kind of grace that God showed to this woman – but God fully allowed her join the family of God

      2. Then there was the Gibeonites. After the way they deceived the Israelites to protect their culture, God would have been justified to eliminate this city state. Rather he allowed them to participate join into the Israelite culture.

      3. Finally, if take time to read Joshua 13 – you will that there are many places that had never been conquered by Joshua's army. Oh, they may have wanted to, but they did not do it. What was to become of them remains to be seen – God promises to do what needs to be done. But what that is exactly is unknown. For the time being, God shows grace.

(Ill.) The grandest operations both in nature and in grace are the most silent and imperceptible. The shallow brook babbles in its passage and is heard by everyone, but the coming on of the seasons is silent and unseen. The storm rages and alarms, but its fury is soon exhausted and its effects are partial and soon remedied; but the dew, though gentle and unheard, is immense in quantity and the very life of large portions of the earth. And these are pictures of the operations of grace in the Church and in the soul.6

    1. God's grace was active in the lives of these people – whether they saw it or not and whether we see it or not. In the small things, God was working in their lives.

(Appl.) I hope that this week you can slow down enough to see God's grace in the small things that come across your path this week. We need to slow down and see God's grace in the small things. In the rain drop, in the rose bud, in the smile, in the still times that God gives us.


1Wood, D. R. W. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary (164). InterVarsity Press.

2Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.

3Romans 3:10-12

4Romans 6:23

5Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (58). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

6AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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