The Faith of Joshua and Caleb

Warrior

WarriorWhat was the faith of Joshua and Caleb?. The same faith that made David stand before the giant  Goliath and say ” who is this uncircumcised philistine that He should stand against the people of God?”

1 Samuel 17:26

Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

In the time of the Exodus 12 spies were sent into the land promised to the people of Israel when they came from Egypt.   Ten of them said yes, the land is flowing with Milk and Honey, but there are giants in the land and we cannot come against them. Two spies, Joshua and Caleb saw the same thing, but they KNEW the promise of God would overcome all enemies and all giants and everything that would stand against them. But the people of God quailed and did not do what God commanded. And so they were left to wander the wilderness until that weak generation died off, and a new generation born to trial took its place and followed Joshua into the promised land.

How much is today’s Christian sitting on their haunches, afraid or willing to speak the hard truth to a wandering generation because they fear the reprisal and disapproval?  This world is literally going to hell in a hand basket, and the only ones who can show them a better way have allowed themselves to be bullied and shamed into hiding that saving light under a basket.

We , the whole world, could user a little the boldness of Joshua and Caleb right now, because it doesn’t matter what giants face us, we are marching on the orders of God.  It is time to put on your big boy and girl pants ( or as the bible says gird your loins) and put on the Armor of God and Go out into the world, your community your home, and make a stand for Jesus.

Because if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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Waiting on the Lord

Waiting

waitingPsalms 130:5-6 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”
Psalms 27:13-14 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD
Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Patience may be a virtue, but sometimes it seems impossible.  But you must let the Lord have His time, because He is preparing something wonderful for you.  Like a great feast it can’t be hurried, or it simply will not be nearly as good.

Thanksgiving, is a week and a day away, and it is a perfect example in the reward of patience.

It starts the day before as side dishes are prepared and the smells of pies and stuffing fill the house, but not yet.

Then the next morning , bright and early the turkey is prepared, and stuffed, and covered with wonderful smelling spices, and then for the next six hours you are tormented by the smells most wonderful, but not yet.

Then people start coming over bringing dishes that look absolutely wonderful and smell great and they are set on the side board, all wonderful and inviting, but not yet.

Then the turkey comes out of the oven in all its golden glory and adds to the symphony of smells enticing in all its ways, but it has to sit for at least a half hour. So, not yet.

And then the moment comes when everything is ready and laid out on the table, glistening gravy, sumptuous turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, but first we have to remember why we are here! We have to give our thanks, so not yet

And then it is time to feast.  a feast made some much sweeter because of the waiting and anticipation.

Imagine if you tried to eat the turkey raw, and the potatoes in their skin….it wouldn’t be nearly as nice. So let God have his time to prepare what He is bringing you.

Besides there are his blessings and grace that will hold you in the mean time.  They are the chips and dip and cold cuts of the day. Just don’t fill up on those, because the feast is coming

Trust In The Lord

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Romans 8:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Proverbs 3:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.

We don’t always know whats best for us, but God does.  And god doesn’t always let us know what is a head of us, usually for our own good.  So rest in Him …trust in Him, for your Father Loves you and will not see you come to harm

Matthew 6

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

 

The Imperative Of Faith

Tough Decisions Ahead Road Signim·per·a·tive n.(m-pr-tv)
1 A command; an order.An obligation; a duty:
Do You Believe in God?

Do you TRULY Believe in God?How Do you know you believe in God?

How do I know? Because He is my Father. He has given me all things pertaining to life and godliness (2nd Peter 1:3) And I trust in Him.

Oh…you trust Him?

Yes.

Trust is a corresponding action to the presence of Faith. If you believe in God…then something, somewhere in your life is going to show it.

This is the Imperative of Faith. Belief. Faith plus action equals belief

Belief. Greek Word Pistis
conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
If you believed you were standing under a 300 ton Boulder that was going to fall, in the exact spot where you stood. Would you remain there? No. The corresponding action to your belief that that monolith is going to wreck your millennium is to boot scoot and boogie out of the way.

If you believed that a 700 ton rampaging mastodon was heading on a bee line for your living room, hurling snot and police cars in it’s wake. Would you sit blithely on your sofa munching your Pringles, or would you high tail it to the nearest safe place.

The corresponding actions to these beliefs are obvious. Why then is it so difficult for us, sometimes, to muster up corresponding action to the faith we have in God? He is the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE! Nothing exists apart from Him and yet so often our response to Him is as lackadaisical as Adam on the Sistine chapel, only missing the touch of God because he refuses to extend his finger. (Oh, I could get so mad at Adam for what he did, but I’d have to get off my couch)

We will answer this question in a second.

There is an imperative to Faith. Faith DEMANDS Action. Let’s look at some Scripture.

James 2:

Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! 20But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

I was tempted not to use the scripture because so much misunderstanding abounds in some areas of the church regarding this. But I used it at the Lord’s leading, because the scripture is not at fault, only our perception and understanding of it is.

So lets sweep aside some misunderstandings first.

First. Works do not save a man. Never have, never will.

Ephesians 2
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We are not saved BY faith, but we are saved TO them

The key to understanding the scripture is to know that FAITH…real faith…alive Faith, works. And something that substitutes for faith….counterfeit (dead) faith, doesn’t. Also notice the word “says” that James Uses.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?

We are not talking about real faith here….but reported faith. This reported faith….it if does not evidence works, is dead. That kind of counterfeit faith is ….destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative

But now that we’ve dealt with what this scripture ISN’T saying…..what IS it saying.

What it is saying is the Imperative of Faith

Real living faith must have some works grow out it. The key verse is this:

22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

Faith is perfected by works. Does this mean you HAVE to do works or your faith is dead….. yes and no. What it is saying, is that real faith HAS works. Faith is like a seed in our life. If you plant any seed in the ground it will grow, if unimpeded. So to will the Kingdom of Heaven grow in the heart of the believer, if unimpeded. Jesus likened this process to a mustard seed.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Matthew 13: 31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

So this passage of James is not devoted to telling us we have to work, not at all. It is telling us that if we have living faith…we WILL work, we can’t but avoid to have that seed grow in our life. Works happen, and there is nothing we can do to stop them, if we have a true and living faith.

So then, we come back to our earlier question?
“Why then is it so difficult for us, sometimes, to muster up corresponding action to the faith we have in God? ” The answer is simple….because sometimes we impede the seed. Things get in the way. Things that we dread…like worry doubt or fear. Or things that we seek after, like desires, lusts and appetites.

Back to Matthew 13

Parables About the Kingdom of Heaven
1 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

The Parable of the Sower Explained
(18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Reading the parable we see that the groups of people can be divided up into two. People who never receive the seed, the unsaved. And those who do receive the seed. The saved. Everyone who received the seed, the word of God…Jesus in their heart is saved. Even if their production capability is off. Salvation is never in question. Remember Ephesians 2-8:9 saved by grace, not of works. In this situation we are talking about LIFE. because once you are saved, it is expected that you in turn will sow life and be a producing Christian. So what stops a person from producing?

Three kind of people received the seed, one type produces, two don’t.

The first type is this:

20But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

This is the person who, after their saved, does invest the time and effort into the devotion of God necessary to create a deep, substantial root of support in times of trouble. A deep abiding faith, where in our first and only reliance is on a loving father and His provision for us. You Know, 2nd Peter 1 3as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue When our reliance is on Him and His provision we can stand against the tribulations of life, both from the enemy camp, and simply from our families. This person’s faith withers in the face of adversity and they can no longer produce or even thrive, they simply wilt. Raise your hand If this has happened to you? (I would but I can’t type one handed ;o) )To keep from falling victim to this “Seed Impeder” we need to dig our roots deep into the things of God.

The second type is this:

22Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

This is the person who after coming to God turns back into the things of the world. Not leaving God, but not completely leaving the world. They Like God , they want to be Christian, but they can think of any number of excuses why God wouldn’t mind this guilty little pleasure, or that little tiny sin, or this desire or this lust, and soon they become so entangled with the weeds of their own desires that their roots to God are crushed in the avalanche of compromise and suddenly, they just don’t “feel” God anymore. And they may even go to church, but they don’t produce….and they slowly wither under the weight of compromise and fall to the ground. When a person comes to Jesus, they must cut their ties to the world, turn their backs on their old lives and move into the new life God has for them. Does this mean abandoning their friends and family, no not necessarily but it does mean that you make your friends and family know that your life is now different and you won’t go with them to the bar, or anything else God would disapprove of. And then we tighten our sails and sail a steady course, straight for Holiness. And expressing the Holiness in our hearts….into our lives.

So what do you do if your a withered stalk? Do you give up? Do you kick in your chips and wait to die, so that you can FINALLY “feel” Jesus again?

Certainly not. While your faith is not dead, it most certainly is comatose and you need to wake it up. Tend your soil, remove the rocks and the weeds from your heart, resettle your roots and start growing again. To be come a producer of 30 60 or 100 fold. Plant the seed and watch your faith become awake again. Get help if you need it, Pastor and I are hear for just that purpose. We all have failures, we all have set backs….we all wither from time to time. But it is OUR JOB as Christians to always re-root and dig deep. It is OUR DUTY as sons and daughters of an Almighty God to come alive again in our faith and produce that thirty sixty and one hundred fold.

It is the Imperative of Our Faith.

I pray that you I and the whole family of God will find ways to strengthen our roots, and clear the weeds of the word out of our lives, so that we can survive and succeed into producing Christians sowing our seed into the lost world to produce yet more in the family of God.

Be Strong In The Lord

Gods-Army-310x190Now, more than ever it is time for us to stand and be counted….. Prayer warriors, wear out the rugs in your prayer closets, Bastions Of God’s Truth Stand Boldly In the Face of the Enemy, Foot soldier, do not shake in your Armor, because even if the whole world is arrayed against us we can Boldly declare as David did when facing Goliath ” Who is this uncircumcised philistine that he should stand against the army of God”
These are perilous times both for the lost and the saved, so many voices so many excuses…its time for Christians to come to the battle and stop giving up the field.
The battle ground is souls, the enemy, well he is the age old enemy and his unwitting victims who spread the lies , and accuse the saints for speaking the truth. They call us haters and seek to limit our speech and our actions, but we must be bolder than ever, louder then ever and uncompromisingly determined to promote the truth.
And everyone has a role.
Surely not everyone is built to stand up and take the hatred and vile evil spewed upon those who stand as bastions of truth, but you can support them with prayer.
It is time men and women of God to strap on the armor…..and take a stand. Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

I will stand with you, my brothers and sister in Christ

The Agony Of Defeat

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Every Saturday afternoon when I was a kid, after chores were done the men folk of the household would sit down and watch the “Wide World of Sports” on television. There was, in the intro of that show, a line that noted ‘The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” The agony of defeat is something happens to all of us. The Holy and The Humble (which are the same thing, but that’s another message.), From the Apostle to the new born Christian ….we all, at some point, fail. We all at some point in our life come to a point where we slip, fall, or toboggan back down the hill we are trying to climb. It can be in a big way, or it can be in a little steps. Sometimes we might even feel like we are in the Olympic event of the 1000m backslide. While, we all make mistakes, missteps or huge errors, it’s not that we make them that determines our eventual victory, but rather how we react to them.

Not too long ago my wife and I took a trip to Death Valley national park here in California. At Death Valley there is a crater with the unusual name called Ubeheebee Crater. This crater has steep walls with loose gravel 3 feet deep all around. After some discussion it was decided that my wife would stay at the top and I would venture the 300 feet down to the bottom of this thing. Going down the crater was a breeze. With each step I traveled a good six feet and landed in the cushion of loose gravel. I got down to the bottom in less then a minute. After looking around for a while I realized again why my wife is the wise one in the group. Climbing up this crater wall was horrific. You would scramble up four steps and slide back three. Every step I took meant sinking my foot into twelve inches of gravel and pulling it out again. By the time I got half way up that 300 foot embankment I had taken a mile worth of steps up that steep hill and I was exhausted. After about fifteen minutes I was worried my wife wouldn’t know what was happening and I was still only halfway up the hill. I was defeated but I couldn’t stop, I just kept thinking to myself that I had to get to the top and even if I slid back three steps I was always making at least one step of progress. About a half hour after I began I made it to the top, drenched in sweat and five pounds lighter where I met my worried wife. She let me know she saw about twenty other people come by, look down to the bottom and shake their heads, apparently having better sense than me. After that trip, I renamed that crater “U Be Heaving” Crater.
I am sure you can see where I am going with this. While I had to eat some crow I had a victory getting out of that crater, not because of the three steps back I slid (3 failures) but because of the one net step that I gained. The only true failure that day would have been for me to stop trying. (Imagine the rangers having to haul my sorry self out of that hole)
So to, is it in our spiritual lives when we fail….it is not a reason to quit, but to keep going. The Apostle Peter always gives me hope in these kinds of situations. He was impulsive with his faith, jumping out before he was really prepared and suffering set back for it.
Matthew 14: 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and[c] worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Peter had his eyes on Jesus; He was focused on Jesus and heard the words of the Lord. And he jumped out in accordance to those words and began to walk in incredible faith. Then Peter took his eyes of Jesus and immediately began to be moved by what was happening around him, his faith faltered and he went into the water. What was Jesus’ response to his failure? Did Jesus let Peter drown for being a failure? No, Jesus grabbed Peter in his failure and saved him, and he also chastised him. This chastisement didn’t come because Jesus was mad or impatient with Peter, but because He cared for Peter, Jesus wanted Peter to learn how to walk in that exceptional faith. There were other failures in Peter’s walk and yet Jesus never got tired of him, Jesus never told Peter “Go back to your fish, you can’t handle this”. Even in Peter’s biggest failure, the denial of Christ three times, Jesus did not condemn Peter; he brought Peter back into right standing and gave him a job to do.
The only failure you will ever suffer from is the last failure, the one you don’t come back from. Will Jesus condemn you if you continue to fail? No! As Romans 8 tells us:
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Will Jesus ever reject you for your failure? No! Has Hebrews 13 tells us
Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Will God ever chastise you for messing up? You better hope so…. Hebrews 12 tells us
Hebrews 12: 6 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And he chastens you because He has great things in mind for you and wants you to walk in that incredible faith he has set before you.
So what happens if you back slide faster than an otter on a snow bank? Do you give up? Or do you fight back and get back to the top of the hill?
God will never tire of seeing you at square one, though he would love to see you advance and win the battle you are fighting so that you can be that person who is “Perfect , Complete and Lacking Nothing”
If you are hearing a voice in you, telling you that you are a loser and a failure and no good to God, and why would God still love you, you better turn around and tell that nasty old Satan to get the Hades out of here. Only that old devil, Satan, the accusers of the saints speaks those words to the ears of the believer trying to get them to lay down in defeat. (we’ll talk more of that in Wednesdays leaders Digest)
If you took four steps up that hill and slid back three, take heart, for you are closer than you have ever been to the kingdom of God. Never ever forget that God loves you, and His love never fails, ever. God will never lose patience with you, He will never reject you, He will never kick you to the curb, He will never give up on you.
Let me repeat, the only true failure is your last failure, the one you don’t get up from. If you do fail, don’t give up, get up.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Get up, get clean, don’t get down on yourself, and take the next step up the hill. Cause God loves you very much.