Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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19 Winning the War on Worry – Part 1

Joshua 1:1-9

“After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3 I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you— 4 from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea[a] in the west, including all the land of the Hittites.’ 5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The book of Joshua begins with the announcement of Moses death and God’s direction for His people. It’s here than we come to a season of change, which for many is unnerving because it can create a feeling of uncertainty. We like our comfortable, and we like control, so change can create fear. But our security doesn’t come from our comfortable problem free circumstances it comes from Christ. The death of Moses could have been an unnerving and chaotic time and its here in the midst of what looks like a loss of leadership that God calls Joshua to step up and serve. Joshua had a choice he could focus on the problem and panic or on God’s plan and experience peace. Fear comes when we choose to focus on the problem instead of the plan. So God calls Joshua to cultivate courage, to call the people together and cross over into Canaan. Remember Joshua is now about 80-years-old, and this call to lead the people across the Jordan to possess the Promised Land probably has him scared. As Joshua looks at the river in full flood stage he is probable feeling uncertain about success and as he looks at the masses of problematic people he is probably feeling a little insecure. Moses has always been “the man” so to speak but now he is dead. God is calling Joshua to step into and fill some pretty big sandals, after all Moses would have been a pretty big act to follow. But it’s here where we are reminded that Moses wasn’t the act, God was. Notice here that when we are following the Lord there is never a loss of leadership, but when we put our faith in “a man” we are always destined to fail because man will always die. Are you following a plan that is destined to die or are you following the Deity? Joshua has a choice here, he can look to God and find courage or look to his circumstances and cower. The real question for us is this, “do we want to live a life of courage or be a coward?” Look living a courageous life comes with challenges but being a coward means continual caving to the challenges. Two different times God calls Joshua to: “Be strong and courageous” (1:6, 9) and in Joshua 1:7 God calls him to be “very courageous.” The root for courage is the word encouragement, which literally means, “to put heart into.” Because God has called us to a life of faithfulness not fretting He calls us out of fear by filling our hearts with courage. Courage doesn’t just displace fear it dispels the fear. This call to courage is also seen in the new Testament where we see very similar words spoken to young pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…” The challenge that they faced wasn’t just because of a change in leadership, but also a change in where they had been living. God’s plan involves moving them from wondering in the wilderness to possessing the promise. Yet most of their knowledge about the Promise Land would have come from the scary stories that their forefathers would have told them about fearful giants. While the wilderness wandering would not have been fun this crossing over into Canaan would have been fearful. But God doesn’t set His people free from slavery to sit on the sidelines stuck in the desert; He calls us to a successful and significant life. They had gone from slavery in Egypt to disappointment in the desert because they doubted God, but now they were on the verge of victory if they would be willing to walk by faith and not in fear. As people we tend to fear change but notice that this whole story is one of change, from slavery to success. When Christ is in the change we don’t have to fear because He will always take us from heartbreak to hope. The change that God’s children experienced in the Old Testament is the same change we experience today. It’s a change we call conversion, from being a slave to being set free. Egypt is a picture that portrays the pain of sin and suffering. It’s the land of the lost where Pharaoh holds us in bondage. Egypt represents a picture of the world, a picture of the lost person who is bound by sin and broken by Satan. But into this cruel culture comes the Passover Lamb who covers the sins of His people and parts the Red Sea, opening a pathway from captivity to Canaan. Just like them I too was held captive in the far country, I was a slave to sin, but Jesus paid the price on the cross for my sins and set me free. He made a way out of wickedness and into a new life filled with power and promise. Yet instead of pursuing the promise most of the Israelites that left Egypt never made it into Canaan. This is where we come to the carnal experience where we end up wondered in the wilderness instead of living the life the Lord intends. Today many who call themselves Christians have become content with trying to carve out a living in the wilderness. They have been saved by Christ but instead of partaking of the promise they have sold themselves short of His plan. These are the carnal Christians who claim Christ but cling to the culture. God’s plan was not to save us from slavery only for us to get caught up in the carnal. God’s plan involves calling us out of the chaos of sin and into Canaan. Our conversion experience should not result in a carnal experience, but in a Canaan experience. For the Christian Canaan represents several pictures, first:

  • It represents release

God desires that His people be free from the shackles of sin and know victory in every area of life. That is why Paul wrote, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” Romans 6:14. The sinner is still bound by Satan and his plans for their life, but the saved are set free to serve the Savior. Not only did Canaan represent release, but:

  • It represents refreshment.

The Israelites ate manna in the wilderness for forty years, every day seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. No one ever woke up wondering what was for breakfast, they knew. Yet God had given them a glimpse into the prolific produce of the Promised Land. It was a land flowing with milk and honey, Canaan represented refreshment a land of plenty. Many of us want to be refreshed, and revived by the power of God yet instead responding to His plan we rebel. We settle for surviving when we should be thriving. Not only did Canaan represent release and refreshment but:

  • It represents rest

The Book of Hebrews calls it the land of rest. It does not mean rest from work but rather rest while you work. Jesus said, “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). While the Israelites had come out of Egypt, they had not experienced rest. Like them we often wandered around in the wilderness, going in circles without purpose instead of pursuing the promise. Many today are worn out because they are living in the worry instead of the promise of His Word. If you want His rest, then you must leave the wilderness, let go of the carnal and cross over into Canaan. Some have been in the wilderness so long that they think being worn out is normal. But wilderness living in not normal, it’s not the life that God planed and provided for you. When someone gets excited about the Word and decides to get serious about serving Jesus we tend to mark them as abnormal. We call them fanatical when in reality this is should be normal behavior for those who call themselves Christ followers. It is the wilderness living that is weird and abnormal not the Christian who is living on fire for God. Today we see getting worked up with worry as normal and being worked up about witnessing and sharing our faith as weird. Many believers are living life backwards; God’s plan is not for us to wander in the wilderness but to camp in Canaan. Are you living in the carnal or in Canaan?  It’s time to stop being a backward believer and start behaving like an image bearer of the King. Because the Kings kids don’t cower they conquer with courage.







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12 Facing your Fears – Part 4

1 Samuel 17:40-52

“40 He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. 41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods. 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled. 45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!” 48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath[g] and the gates of Ekron.”

Not only did David have a different perspective and dare to proclaim God’s name but he also:

  • Determine to be proactive

When it comes to defeating your giants you have a choice, you can be proactive or you can procrastinate. For 40 days God’s army tried procrastinating but the problem never went away, in fact the more they tried to put it off the bigger the problem seemed to get. Deciding to delay is really a decision to deny. Instead of living in denial, David chose to confront the problem head on, so he picked up what he had, his staff and his slingshot, and then found five smooth stones. Many people as they read this passage end up focusing on the five stones, and asking why five when one would do? I think he wanted some in reserve just in case he missed, this wasn’t a lack of faith it was just good planning. If you are going to step onto the battle field you better be prepared. The greater lesson here and the one we often seem to miss is the simple truth that these five stones had been there all the time, they just needed to be picked up and put to use. The key to David’s success rested in a simple stone that God had prepared long before the battle ever began. The principle we need to put into practice is to use what God has provided. Augustine once said, “Without God, we cannot; without us, He will not.” David didn’t stroll onto the battle field scripture says: “he ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” If you want to be successful then you need to stop cowering and start confronting your giants. Because Christ has won the victory we should confidently and courageously engage the enemy. You can’t sit back and just hope it will get better on its own, it’s time to pick up what God has provided and get into the game. In David’s eyes, God was the giant and Goliath was the gnat. With a single stone from his sling, David slayed the giant. When it comes to confronting or cowering Max Lucado writes: “How long since you ran toward your challenge? We tend to retreat, duck behind a desk or crawl into a nightclub of distraction or a bed of forbidden love. For a moment, a day, or a year, we feel safe, insulated, anesthetized, but then the work runs out, the liquor wears off, or the lover leaves and we feel Goliath again. Booming. Bombastic. Try a different tack. Rush your giant with a God-saturated soul – ‘Giant of divorce, you aren’t entering my home! Giant of depression? It may take a lifetime, but you won’t conquer me. Giant of alcohol, bigotry…you’re going down.’ How long since you loaded your sling and took a swing at your giant? Faith is not talking about the giant, its choosing to take the first step and face your fears instead of fleeing from them. Faith dares to look the enemy in the eye and instead of running away engages. The rest of God’s army chose to flee instead of fight because they had a poor perception of God. David reminds us that we don’t have to fear because our wars serve as a witness to the power of God. One of the reasons we are afraid of the war is that all we can focus on are the possible wounds; we miss the fact that wars are just an opportunity for a watching world to witness the wonder and power of God. Why did it take 40 days for them to see the wonder of God because they chose to live in fear instead of faith. What about you, are you going to be a warrior or a worrier?

  • Declare your faith in God

In verse 4 Goliath is called a “champion” it comes from the Hebrew word meaning “a man-between” or “middle-man” a mediator. Just as Goliath was a representative for the Philistines, God’s ultimate champion is Jesus, the Son of David, who is our mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” When Jesus won the battle against Satan on the Cross, those who he represents join in that victory. When you compare David’s victory and Christ’s there are some amazing comparisons: Both were born in Bethlehem. Both were sent to the battlefield by their father. Both were rejected and scorned by their own brethren. Both disarmed the enemy and rendered him powerless. It’s time to lift your eyes to Jesus, it’s time to start seeing yourself as a giant-slayer because Jesus has already won the battle. Go down into the valley and engage the enemy, stop living in fear and start stepping out in faith. Victory depends on which voice you listen to. You can listen to the voice of your giants or you can listen to the voice of truth. Today as we close I want you to read through some of the lyrics to the song “Voice of Truth”

Oh what I would do to have

The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant

With just a Sling and a stone

Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors

Shaking in their armor

Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand


But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me

Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed

The giant keeps on telling me

Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win!”

“You’ll never win”


But the voice of truth tells me a different story

And the voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”

And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”

Out of all the voices calling out to me (Calling out to me)

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Now take a trip to a stream and gather five smooth stones, put them in those places where fear causes you to want to flee. Or put them in a pocket where these simple stones can serve as a reminder that your God is greater than the giant. Are you going to be faithful or fearful?