Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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16 Obedience that overcomes – Part 2

Joshua 6:1-5

1 Now the gates of Jericho were tightly shut because the people were afraid of the Israelites. No one was allowed to go out or in. 2 But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. 3 You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. 4 Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. 5 When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town.”

When the Lord spoke He revealed to Joshua His battle plan for Jericho and Joshua not only listened to the Lord but he:

  • Trusted God’s Direction

It’s easy to talk about trusting God but did you really listen to the directions that Joshua was given? “Your entire army is to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the horns, have all the people give a mighty shout. Then the walls of the city will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the city.” When it comes to military plans these are not only unusual, they are unheard of. Yet Joshua didn’t question them, why, because he didn’t focus on the plan he focused on the person of God. He knew God was trustworthy, time and again God had not only proven His power but also His promises. Joshua chose to focus on the faithfulness of God. When Joshua was first taking command of the Israelites after the death of Moses, God said to him in Joshua 1:9 “I command you be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” The reason God gave for Joshua living a courageous life is found in God’s unchanging plan, “I will be with you” The power of God’s plan is simply His presence, He would be with Joshua. Joshua trusted that God was with Him, so no matter what the specific details Joshua didn’t have to doubt. Today there is a famine of faithfulness in our families because we have a shortage of trust. There are people who let us down, who break trust and as a result we tend to transfer this into our relationship with God. We may hear His truth but do we trust His Word, there is a difference between listening to the Lord and lean on Him. But God is trustworthy, He has always kept His Word and done what He said He would do. Sometimes we act like we know better than God, as if He is holding out on us. We live like our ideas are somehow superior to him, but Joshua believed that God knew better and could be trusted. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us of just how limited we are compared to the Lord: “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Abraham Lincoln in response to the question of whether he believed that God was on the union’s side said: “My great concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” God knows better than we do so why would you not trust Him? does the way that you live your life reflect that you trust God’s directions? Not only did Joshua trust God’s direction but he also:

  • Obeyed God’s Instructions

It’s one thing to say you trust God but it’s quite another to act on that trust. My guess is that God is tired of people simply agreeing with Him, what He wants is people that will obey Him. God wants followers, not admirers. John Calvin said: “All true knowledge of God is born out of obedience.” Joshua chose to obey even if he didn’t fully understand. In reality he had no idea how God was going to make the walls fall using worship, yet he still obeyed. Many of us want to figure out the how before we bow and believe. But this is obedience based on faith not figure it out. The truth is there are plenty of things in this life that we don’t fully understand: Why do cats purr, how exactly do magnets work, or women (some things are just too complex for mere man). But what we need to remember is that God does, for He created everything that exists. Not only does He have it all under control but He sees the big picture that we don’t. So even though you might not understand remember that He does and you can trust Him. When we act on this trust we obey Him.  C.H. Spurgeon said: “God is too good to be unkind, He’s too wise to be confused, and if I cannot trace His hand I can always trust His heart.” Joshua also chose to follow God’s plans over any he might have had. he had been here 40 years earlier, and I suspect he had had times where he had not only pondered but probably planned how the Israelites could defeat these people and possess the Promised Land. He had probably already worked out a battle strategy, which may even have involved Joshua skirting around Jericho and avoiding it altogether. But when God delivered His instructions any plans Joshua had were quickly laid aside. You may have your life plans all mapped out, your career and life goals, along with how you’re going to get there, but if God’s map takes you in a different direction which will you follow? Proverbs 16:9 says: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Not only was Joshua willing to put his plans aside but he was also ok with following God’s plan even if it made him look foolish. Imagine for a moment that you were one of the Israelites, how do you think you’d feel marching around the walls of Jericho blowing trumpets? Imagine those on the top of the walls ridiculing you, taunting and throwing their trash. Now that is just day one, imagine doing it for seven days. What would it have been like going back to the camp every night for six nights after marching around the walls and nothing happening day after day? Sometimes walking by faith seems foolish even stupid. But Joshua is not the first follower to look foolish and he won’t be the last. For a while Noah looked like an idiot, building a boat in a barren land. What if nothing had happened on the seventh day, or it hadn’t rained and the ark had ended up being nothing but an oversized lawn ornament? Or imagine how David would have looked if the rock he hurled had missed Goliath. Or is Peter had stepped out of the boat and immediately drowned. Sometimes saying yes to the Savior means risking looking stupid. But it’s in these moments that we see God move in miraculous ways. On the seventh day the Israelites were instructed to shout but I think most of us would have preferred to whisper. Many live life keeping their faith hidden just in case God fails. They don’t want to look stupid, they worry more about how they look than who they are living for. But let me ask you, who had the last laugh, it wasn’t the jerks of Jericho. There is a lot of truth in the saying: “Behold the turtle. He makes no progress unless he sticks his neck out.” As difficult as it is there are times when we just need to stick our necks out in obedience and let God take care of the rest. Joshua obeyed God’s instructions, what about you? Charles Swindoll says that the most important characteristic of the active spiritual life is obedience. Later in Joshua’s life he said: “So honor the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15. For Joshua faith involved follow through, he was determined to obediently follow the Fathers instructions no matter what. How about you are you living an obedient life or is there an area in your life where you are wavering?