Sunday, October 14, 2007

Joshua: Decision Making God's Way
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Joshua: Decision Making God's Way

Intro.: I thought about bringing in a set of barbells this morning.

  1. Lift the 5# weight – no problem

  2. Lift the 25# weight – might struggle, but might be able to do it

  3. Lift the 100# weight

  4. Lift the 500# weight – I doubt that any of us could lift this weight. The Olympic record for weight lifting is just 671 pounds – but 500 is too close for comfort. At least my comfort.

  5. God's will is sort of like this – sometimes it is really easy. Other times it becomes a real challenge.

  6. Knowing and doing God's will can be a challenge to believers in every age.

  7. Joshua had to face it as he distributed the land to the Israelites.

Read: Joshua 13:1-7


Trans: As Joshua divided the land, it was done in three steps.

  1. The first step was the bulk of the land that was to be given to the twelve tribes that came from the descendants of Jacob.

  2. The second step, involved keeping a promise that was made by Moses to Caleb and Joshua – we will look at that passage next week.

  3. The third step involved providing for the one tribe that would not receive any land – the Levites. This will be the focus of our study the last week in October.

  4. But for now, Joshua is faced with dividing the Promised land between the eleven tribes that would get land.

T.S. There are three steps to follow when we are following God's will.

  1. Step 1: Know what God wants.

(Ill.) When children first start to color, they have two problems. First, they might choose colors that are inappropriate. Secondly, once the colors are chosen, they have a difficult time keeping the colors within the boundary lines. As they mature and keep on coloring, they learn to keep within the guidelines and to choose the appropriate colors, resulting in a satisfying picture. As children of our Heavenly Father, our prayer life often resembles a child’s coloring. At first, we don’t know what to pray for nor do our prayers stay within the guidelines of His will. As we mature and continue praying, though, we pray for the right things and stay within His will, resulting in a satisfying prayer life.1

    1. Something similar is true for God' s will. First, I have trouble knowing what His will is; and then, I have trouble doing it.

    2. I want to do what God wants. I expect that is why most of us are here. Seems simple enough.

    3. In fact, this was where Joshua found himself. He has the remarkable job of dividing the promised land among 12 families. And he wanted to do it God's way.

(Ill.) I expect he and Abraham Lincoln had similar thoughts – when addressing a group of Methodist pastors, he once said, “I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God’s will I will do.”2

    1. But if Joshua, Lincoln, I am going to do what God wants, we need to know what he wants.

    2. What God wants will fall into two categories.

    3. There are those things that God makes very obvious. There a re very few secrets in what God expects of us – except for one fact, we don't take the time to get to know what he wants.

    4. How can I expect to do what God wants, if I don't know what he wants? Let me as a question, how much time have you spent this week? How much time have you spent in His word? How much time have you spent in prayer? (Remember, scripture says, “pray without ceasing”.)

    5. This is exactly what Joshua has done. He has spent years walking along side Moses, preparing for the time he would be called upon to lead. Moses had prepared him by making it clear what God wanted.

    6. Joshua understood that the first step to doing what God wants is to know what He wants. It is a lesson that we also need to learn.

  1. Step 2: Do what God wants.

    1. God makes much of what he wants from us obvious. Now we merely need to do it.

    2. That part is not as easy. You see, there is a part of us that wants to do things our way rather than God's way.

    3. But Joshua did it that way. As he began to parcel out the land, the pattern was extremely clear. Moses had parceled some of it out before they crossed the Jordan, other parts were a natural consequence of the pattern that had already been established.

    4. And so when Joshua had to go beyond those basic, he had prepared himself – had practiced what he what he had to do and was ready for the task.

(Ill.) Do you remember having to learn your ABCs? How did you do it. You kept repeating the letters over and over. Perhaps you even learned that wonderful little ditty, “ABCDefgHIJK lmnopQRSTuvwXYZ Now you know I know my ABCs, will you sing them again with me?” What was the secret? It boils down to this -- do you remember the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” It as true in the spiritual realm as it is in learning the alphabet or our multiplication tables.

    1. If we develop the habit of obedience in those things we know, it will be more likely that we will be obedient in those things that are less certain.

(Appl.) Someone has said that there are four questions involved in discerning God's will beyond what is explicitly given in scripture:

      1. Is is allowed by scripture?

      2. Do your circumstances allow it?

      3. As you listen to the Holy Spirit, does your heart say the chosen action is right.

      4. Do believers you trust see God's hand at work?

    1. I really think this step, the ability to do what God wants, is the hardest. It means that, when our wants and desires conflict with God's, they have to be set aside.

    2. We begin by know what God wants from us, we then do what he wants, and then comes ...

  1. Step 3: Celebrate what God has done.

    1. We can always celebration. It is not the results that we are celebrating – it is the fact that we have been obedient to what God wants.

    2. Results are God's responsibility – obeying is ours.

    3. Joshua understood this. After all the effort he and the Israelite army had spent in conquering the land, the first thing that book of Joshua records is, “This is the land that remains.” and Joshua 13 continues by listing all the areas that they had not conquered.

    4. It may be true that we are broken, but we may not be as broken as much as we thought. We want to measure success by what we want. But that is not God's measure. He only asks us to be obedient. Not to accomplish what we want.

(Ill.) You may remember the story of Charles Goodyear. Rubber had around for many years, but it was not very stable – and rotted easily. Products that were thought to be safe, ended up being less than perfect. Goodyear spent five years working on a process that would solve the problem. He began by mixing magnesia into the rubber, and for a while it looked like it would work. But no. And he tried other chemicals – magnesia, lampblack, and turpentine. No go. Then he tried running the finished rubber through nitric Acid – nope it did not work. Mixing, coating, using mechanical mixing of the components, using solvents to mix the various chemicals that were needed, nothing, He was at a lost. But you probably heard the end of the story. One day he spilled some of the rubber mixture on his stove – he kept trying. By man's standard he had blown it. He had to clean up his mess before he could continue. But as he cleaned up the mess, he realized that what he was cleaning was actually the product he had been looking for over the last few years. 3

    1. Just as Goodyear had to rethink how he was going to measure success, so must we. Success for the believer must be measured by our obedience – not by some external accomplishment.

    2. We can only celebrate because we have done what God has called us to do. Nothing else

Conclusion: Joshua could celebrate.

  1. He discovered what God wanted.

  2. He did it.

  3. He celebrated because he and the people of Israel did what God wanted.


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.

2Lincoln, Abraham. September 13, 1862, Saturday, in commenting to Rev. William W. Patterson, Rev. John Dempster, and representatives of the Methodist, Baptist, and Congregational denominations from Chicago, who had presented a petition supporting the emancipation of the slaves. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, eds., The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln: Speeches, Letters and State Papers (1905). William J. Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, the Christian (NY: Abingdon Press, 1913), pp. 94-95. William J. Johnson, How Lincoln Prayed (NY: Abingdon Press, 1931), pp. 45-46. Charles Fadiman, ed., The American Treasury (NY: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1955), p. 381. Edmund Fuller and David E. Green, God in the White House—The Faiths of American Presidents (NY: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1968), p. 113. Carroll E. Simcox, 3000 Quotations on Christian Themes (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989), p. 14, No. 130. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Glory of America (Bloomington, MN: Garborg’s Heart’N Home, Inc., 1991), 9.17. Found in Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch. Found in Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.


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