Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scoundrels in God's Hands

Intro.: For the last six week we have moved through the second part of Joshua.

  1. It is time to bring our study of Joshua to a temporary halt.

  2. Next week, I want to do what the stores have been doing for weeks – I want to start preparing for Christmas.

  3. December 2, is set aside for decorating the church. Then, on December 3 we will begin our advent lessons.

  4. After the first of the year, I am going to begin a series of messages helping us to understand the return of Jesus Christ.

  5. Later, next Spring we will return to our study of Joshua.

Read: Joshua 1:1-5


Trans: As we come the close on the current series of sermons from the book of Joshua, I want to look at three scoundrels that Joshua had deal with in the early years of his leadership.

  1. I suspect, if we had an choice, we would not want Aiken, the Gibeonites, or Rahab to be part of our church.

  2. Each of them had flaws that we would find offensive and repulsive.

  3. Yet they do have something to teach us.

  4. Though we have looked these three scoundrels earlier, today I want to take one more look at what they have to teach us.

  1. Aiken did not know what he had

    1. Aiken had it all.

      1. He had heard the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      2. His parents and grandparents had crossed the Red Sea with Moses

      3. He had been there when the Israelites had taken the Eastern side of the Jordan

      4. He crossed the dried up Jordan with Joshua and had seen Joshua place the pillar of rocks in the midst of the Jordan as a reminder of God's provision and grace.

      5. And he had marched around Jericho seven times and seen the walls fall at the sound of the trumpet

      6. There is no reason for Aiken to know no what it meant to be a part of the family of God

    2. In fact he appeared to be a part of the family of God,
      but when it came time to live out his faith, he washed out

    3. I am sure you remember the story in Joshua – after Jericho fell, the Israelites were told to give everything of value to God. Yet Aiken kept some of it for himself and had to suffer the consequences.

    4. You see, Aiken knew what it meant to be part of the family of God, but he chose to take a different path.

(Ill.) I am reminded of Robert Frosts famous poem, one of my favorites, “The Road Not Taken”1. The twenty lines of this poem tell the story of every man and woman that will make decisions that will take them down one road or another. I fear that Aiken did not take the road less traveled by – he took the road that more convenient to him

(Appl.) There is a danger for all of us, that we are active in the church, but then forget what it means to be a part of the family of God. Decisions are made with any thought about what God wants. Decisions are based on what we want, rather than what God wants.

  1. Gibeonites wanted something that was not theirs

    1. The Gibeonites saw something different in the Israelites. And they would rather be part of it than stand in the way of it. They wanted to be part of it, regardless of the cost.

    2. And, if you remember, they used a ruse to gain that status. Though they were neighbors, they claimed to have traveled a great distance to be associated with God's people. To illustrate their lie, they put on old clothes and brought moldy and stale food.

(Ill.) At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.

He married a Christian girl and pretended to be a Christian before her. She knew nothing of his past crime. Then someone sent him a tract in the mail, titled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” Reading it, he noticed that one of the Bible verses said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

The realization struck that salvation was for him. He could be forgiven and his conscience set free. He knelt in prayer and accepted Christ.

His life changed. He stopped a lifelong habit of lying. And after much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. His confession made television newscasts and newspaper headlines even in Canada.

Under a Kansas statute of limitations, he was set free, although he chose to repay his share of the stolen funds to the bank. Today, Al Johnson is the manager of a service station, the father of three admiring children, and an outstanding Christian layman.2

    1. There are Al Johnson's throughout the church. Car salesman, insurance salesman, lawyers, doctors can find their way into a church, not because of their faith, but because they want the business.

(Appl.) Take a moment to look at your own reason for being here. Are you here for what you can get out of it or are you here because of your faith. As we spend time getting ready for Christmas, it is also a good time to reflect on the role your faith plays in your life. Why are you here?

  1. Rahab-experienced God's grace

    1. I am not sure that either you or I would want an acknowledged theif as part of my church – though God would have no problem with it. I am not sure that I would want an acknowledged liar in my church, though God would have no problem with it. I am not sure that I would want a prostitute in my church – yet she becomes a welcome member of the Israelite community.

    2. Why was Rahab's experience so different from that of Aiken or the Gibeonites? Could the difference be in the nature of the sin? I don't think so. Could the difference be her wealth? I doubt it. Could the difference be her influence in the community? That's not what scripture says.

    3. Scripture makes it clear that difference was faith – her faith in God. Hebrews 11 puts it this way - “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.3 What distinguished Rahab from Aiken and from the Gibeonites was not her wealth, it was not her sin, it was not her influence in the community. It was her faith.

Conclusion: As we come to the end of our study of Joshua for now, I want end with a question – where is your faith this today?

Is it in being a part of the right family – like Aiken did?

  1. Is it in being active in the life of the church – like the Gibeonites did?

  2. Or is your faith in the living God, who sacrificed his only son for you, for me?

  3. Where is your faith today?



2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

3The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Heb 11:31). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Little Lie

Joshua 9:1-27

Intro.: Do you know what one of the easiest decisions I ever made was – it was the decision to ask my wife to marry me.

  1. You want to know why – it was a mistake.

  2. I had decided to wait until the end of my senior year to ask her to marry me.

  3. But one night we were walking around the campus – and it slipped out, “Will you marry me?” I suspect she was as surprised to hear me say it as I was to say it. And it would be three months before she would answer my question. But that is another story. All I can say is that I am glad that she did say “yes”.

  4. Today we want to look at a point in time when the Israelites had to make a decision. And how they handled it.

Read: Joshua 9:1-8


Trans: The Gibeonites lived 5-1/2 miles north of Jerusalem.

  1. Archaelogists have actually located the old city on a hill called el Jib. For many years they thought they had found the right site. But it was when they found 31 jars with the name of Gibeon etched into their handles, the scholars became convinced that they had the site.

  2. The Gibeonites figure into much of Israel's history – the events of Joshua occur around 1350. They can be traced through history to the rebuilding of the temple under Nehemiah in 445 BC.

  3. The events that we read about today is the beginning of that history.

T.S. This inital interaction of Joshua and the Israelites with the Gibeonites can be divided into three segments.

  1. The Presentation

    1. The Gibeonites lived a few miles north of Jerusalem.

    2. And they had heard, as had everyone living west of the Jordan, what had happened to in Jericho and Ai. It was a worrisome time.

    3. As we will see, there were a group of cities that were willing to battle Israel.

    4. But the four cities that made up the Gibeonite communities had another idea. They chose to be deceptive:

      1. They took their oldest animals

      2. Loaded them down with old sacks and wine bottles, tied it all together with old used rope

      3. They even put on the oldest and shodiest clothing and shoes.

      4. They took old, moldy bread as their provisions.

      5. And they told a story.

    5. You see, the Gibeonites were confronted with an ethical decision:

      1. Would it be better to fight, lose, and die.

      2. Or would it be better to lie, deceive and, possibly, live.

    6. I think we as Christians make three errors when making ethical decisions:

      1. The first mistake is to assume that every decision is either black or white. There are easy decisions (“Should I rob the bank.”); but not every decision is this clear. I make this mistake every time I say to my wife, “Why didn't you do it this way?” Or, more subtly, “I would have done it this way.”

      2. The second mistake that we can make is assuming our choices make no difference. After all, some would argue, God will forgive me, so I can do what ever I want. Yet, in all of this, God does care. God does want to enter into our decision making.

      3. The third mistake is similar to the second, and that is to not come to God as we make decisions. Yes we believe that God is concerned about our decisions, but then we forget to allow our faith to influence those decisions. We make them based on how we feel or on what we think – never allowing our faith to shape the decisions we make.

(Appl.) The greatest book of ethics are the scriptures – but if we choose to ignore it, then it is of no use at all.

  1. The Decision

    1. Of course the Israelites had to respond – and they were not going to be tricked. These guys were smart.

    2. They knew they weren't to build alliances with those outside the community of faith.

    3. So they began asking questions – look at verse 7: But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty with you? Or look at Joshua's question in verse 8: Who are you and where do you come from?

    4. They were asking good questions – but they neglected to ask the most important question – What does God want? Remember the three mistakes that we mentioned earlier – they forgot the third mistake – they neglected to turn it over to God? I do not know what God would have said – but the omission is significant.

    5. Because what they do is strange – Joshua offers them a treaty and the Israelite leaders follow it up with an oath.

(Ill.) Do you see that work “treaty” - it's an interesting word. Behind the word “treaty” is the Hebrew word “berit”. Normally the word “berit” is translated “covenant”. It is also the word that is used to most often describe God's very special relationship to man.

    1. Joshua is not the only person to define that relationship – the other leaders also swore to abide by the treaty. On the surface it looks like a simple agreement between two groups of people. But there is also a third party involved – the Lord. Verse 19 reads, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel”.

(Appl.) I am not sure why they missed it, but as we sit here, it comes as no surprise that God is involved in all we do.

  1. The Consequences

    1. Deception from the Gibeonites followed by the Israelites making a treaty without giving thought to what God might want – it was bound to lead to confusion.

    2. It did not take long for the deception to be found – three days, three days after offering the treaty, the Israelites find that they have been deceived.

    3. And they are mad. Like most of us, they did not like finding out that they had fallen for the Gibeonite's ruse.

    4. And as their anger grew, they wanted to go after those who had been involved.

    5. But they couldn't – they had made an oath before God. They had made a commitment that they would hang onto.

    6. That doesn't mean there were not consequences:

      1. For the Gibeonites, it meant that they would spend the rest of their lives serving the Israelites in the lowliest jobs known at the time, as woodworkers and water carriers.

      2. For the Israelites, the the Gibeonites will live in their midst for most of the next 5 or 6 centuries

(Ill.) In the movie Casualties of War, Michael J. Fox plays Private Erikson, a soldier in Vietnam. Though Private Erikson did not participate, his squad did commit a violent and horrible crime. Afterwords, as he struggles with has happened, says to the other men in his squad, “Just because each of us might at any second be blown away, we're acting like we can do anything we want, as though it doesn't matter what we do. I'm thinking it's just the opposite. Because we might be dead in the next split second, maybe we gotta be extra careful what we do. Because it matters more. Maybe it matters more that we ever know.”1

Conclusion: That is the big lesson for today. Whether it deception or some more obvious sin or ignoring God in our decision making, there are consequences.


1Sarrault, Joel. Quoted in Rowell, Edward K. (2005). 1001 Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Life's Surprises

Intro.: This week I found myself in tears as I heard the story of Charles Carl Roberts IV.

  1. You see it this man who attacked a small Amish school near Lancaster, PA.

  2. Five young girls have died, one is said to be near death. Four others remain in the hospital.

  3. I felt tears run down my face.

  4. But it was not just the events of last week.

  5. In Colorado another school had been attacked a week earlier – killing one girl.

  6. The next Wednesday a high school student arrived at school and end up shooting and killing his high school principal.

  7. During the last two weeks there have also been bomb threats and schools closed down because of the fear of a police murderer. It has been a tough month.

  8. In the midst of this, there are somethings I do not understand.

  9. As the week came to an end, I was left confused.

Read: Luke 5:17-26


T.S. Two things confused me this week. I would like to spend the next few minutes looking at my confusion.

  1. I found myself confused by the horror of man's sinfulness.

    1. I was confused by the extent to which mankind can fall.

    2. I choose to not attend horror movies. I choose to not read novel which focus on horror.

    3. Yet as I followed the news on Monday morning, I felt that I was living through a horror story – over which I had no choice.

    4. How do I understand the events of the past few weeks.

    5. One way I can do that is by understanding how scripture

    6. I want to look at two words scripture uses to describe the sinfulness that seems to be so pervasive in human nature.

    7. The first word is the “Awen“-the root of this word focuses on the doing of sin.

      1. Isaiah 55 uses this word:
        Let the wicked forsake his way
        and the evil man his thoughts.
        Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
        and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

      2. The word reminds us of John Wesley's definition of sin – “A willful transaction of a known law of God.”

(Ill.) Wesley understood that there are times when men and women are held responsible for sin when they know what they are doing – but are less responsible when they do not understand what they are doing. In law, this is the basis for an insanity plea. In theology, we speak of the age of accountability. The point at which a child understands what sin is and makes the deliberate decision to sin.

(Ill.) A very little girl, who often read her Bible, gave proof that she understood her obligations to obey its precepts. One day she came to her mother much pleased to show her some fruit which had been given to her. The mother said the friend was very kind, and had given her a great many. “Yes,” said the child, “very, indeed; and she gave me more than these, but I have given some away.” The mother inquired to whom she had given them, when she answered, “I gave them to a girl who pushes me off the sidewalk, and makes faces at me.” On being asked why she gave them to her, she replied, “Because I thought it would make her know that I wanted to be kind to her, and maybe she will not be so rude and unkind to me again.” How admirably did she thus obey the command in (Romans 12:21) to “overcome evil with good”.1

    1. The Greek NT uses a different word for the concept of sin – the word is “harmartia”.

      1. The word literally means “missing the mark.” We have discussed this word before. Before moving to NY my family and I would attend “family camp” over the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. One of the activities available to us was an archery range. None of us was very good – but we try our best. We would aim for that little circle right in the center of the target – but, you know, we would miss the mark.

      2. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We have all hamartia – we have all “missed the mark.”

(Ill.) A dear pastor friend of mine used to say, “there is no sin so vile, so dark, that we, except for the grace of God, could not fall into it ourselves. Amazingly, he said it only a few years before he fell himself was forced to leave the ministry because of “conduct unbecoming a pastor”.

    1. I don't understand it all – but I have a glimpse of what is behinds this months events. Sin is so pervasive, sin is so ingrained into the human race, that I should never be surprised at how far man may fall, I should never be surprised.

  1. I found myself confused by the ability of some to offer forgiveness to a broken world.

    1. It was not just the sinfulness of man that surprised me this week.

    2. The reaction of the Amish to the events of Monday surprised me as well – their ability to offer forgiveness to the man who did this horrible deed and to his family should astound all of us.

    3. Three dozen people attended Charles Carl Roberts IV's funeral – half of them were Amish. They were not there to protest, they were not there to rub in their pain. They were there to offer grace to his family.

    4. They invited the family to join them as they said good bye to their own children. I don't know if it occurred, but it took a great deal of grace to make the offer.

    5. Real grace is offered to those who feel least able to ask for it.

(Ill.) I read a news story this week about Kris Philips, a young boy who was born with a weakened back bone. Kris lives in the Knoxville, TN, area and when he was born, his parents were told that he would never walk. A steel rod had to be put into his back bone, just so he could sit straight. Today he is in middle school running cross country. He is not fast – in fact he comes in dead last. But the crowd does not leave until he crosses the finish line. His team does not leave until he crosses the finish line. In fact, the opposing team does not leave until he crosses the finish line. You see, though both teams have finished the race, the runners of both teams join Kris as he runs the last 30 yards of the race. The crowd cheers and his parents are there to meet him at the finish line. Knoxville was showing Kris Phillips what grace is all about.2

    1. The Amish know something that we do not know or understand. God is in the business of showing grace – whether it is to you and I sitting in relative luxury, or to a young man who was never supposed t walk, or to man who had murdered five of their children.

Conclusion: I was confused this week.

  1. I was confused by the sinfulness of man

  2. I was confused by the offer of forgiveness made by the Amish community in Lancaster.

  3. But I better understood Jesus' question we heard in Luke 5 - “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?

  4. This week, I saw, we all saw, the grace of God working the lives of truly broken people.


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


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Facing Life

Intro.: Fear is a strange thing

  1. When I was younger, I had no problem getting onto a ferris wheel. But today, I feel much less comfortable doing so.

  2. Similarly, I used to like to fly – but I would much sooner drive than fly today.

  3. I expect that there those things you would be more than willing to say, “I would never do that again.”

  4. But sometimes things just seem to come our way that we have no control over.

  5. That is the situation that Joshua found himself in.

Read: Joshua 8:1-8


Trans:You will remember the circumstances

  1. Joshua had a stunning victory at Jericho

  2. But when the Israelites attacted Ai, they lost just as spectacularly.

  3. The cause was related to Aichan's sin – lhe had stolen property that properly belonged to God.

  4. Joshua knew that – but then he was at a total loss of how to procede.

  5. He had not control over the situation. Why bother to procede. If they were going to lose the battle, there was no reason to try again.

  6. It was a discouraging time for Joshua.

  1. Discouragement is real

    1. Joshua was discouraged. We know it, God knew it.

    2. None of us would be surprised. After such a miraculous victory in Jericho, the defeat at Ai came as quite a surprise to Joshua. It had not worked the way he planned and he was discouraged.

    3. I looked in my dictionary for the definition of discouragement – it was not very helpful. It gave three definitions:

      1. The act of discouraging another

      2. The condition of being discouraged

      3. Something or someone that discourages another

These definitions are really redundant – you need to know the meaning of the word, in order to define the word.

    1. But, being the scholar that I am, did not stop there. I also went to my thesaurus – and I did find some help there. Listen to some of the synonyms that are listed there:

      1. disheartenment

      2. dismay

      3. despair

      4. intimidation1

    2. I expect that these pretty much define the way that Joshua felt after being defeated by the residents of Ai.

    3. But it can also describe us – there will be times that discouragement can affect our behavior, our thoughts, and our feelings.

(Ill.) Someone has said, “Being positive is part of being a hero – maybe the hardest part, because if you are a hero you're smart enough to know all the reasons why you should be discouraged.”

    1. Joshua was discouraged and he still had to fight the battle of Ai.

  1. Fear is real

    1. Discouragement was not all that Joshua felt. He also felt fear.

(Ill.) When I think of the word fear, one of the images that comes to my mind are those old cartoons with Wyle E. Coyote and the Road Runner. If you remember, the Road Runner was in constant fear for his life – at the same time, he was afraid of nothing.

    1. I expect that fear effected Joshua similarly to how it would effect you and me. He was at a standstill. He wasn't moving forward, he felt confused as to the next step.

(Ill.) One well-known family doctor is convinced that the one common symptom of 90% of those who make a visit to the doctor is not an upset stomach, a cough, or even chest pain. The one symptom that most patients share when they visit their doctors is fear – fear of losing a job, fear of old age, fear of being found out. And sooner or later it comes out as a clinical symptom.

The fear itself might just be a little anxiety. Or it may be so deep seated that the patient himself or herself will deny the fear itself. But the fear's effects require that the patient visit a doctor – and have their physical problems cared for. Sometime they find relief for the physical problem, but what they face on the inside is not so easily cared for.2

    1. Somebody put it this way, “Somebody has said that ulcers are caused not by what you eat, but by what is eating you!”3 I am not sure that is a medical diagnosis – but it does get the point across.

(Appl.) Fear is a real feeling – let those who are willing to and able to talk about their fear, their anxiety, their concerns, to talk. And don't be afraid to talk about your own concerns. If the first person that you talk to doesn't respond to your feelings, talk to someone else, talk to your doctor, talk to your nurse.

  1. God understands our discouragement and our fear.

    1. Of course this is where we started – God responding to Joshua's own discouragement and fear.

    2. His words are not so much a command, but an encouragement. “You do not need to be discouraged. You do not need to be afraid. I am here.”

    3. Joshua's story suggest three stages in dealing with discouragement and fear.

      1. First, Listen to God. He understands discouragement and fear. Read the Psalms, read the gospels. God really does understand – but we have to listen to him

      2. Second, obey God. There is something very tempting about doing things our way when we are faced with discouragement and fear. But if we are listening to God, we will know what he wants. And when we know what he wants, then we need to do it as best as we are able.

      3. Finally, Trust God. You have listened to God. You have done what he has asked of you. Now we have to trust that God will see us through the difficult times. This is the hardest step. But we can wait on God and he will see us through it all.

    4. Andrae Crouch wrote a wonderful song that expresses that very thought – “Through It All4:

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.

Conclusion: Discouragement and fear are part of life.

But God will see us through them as we depend on Him.



2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

3Green, 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.