Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:22-25 and John 15:1-17; II Chronicles 7:14
Opening Song: “I need Thee Every Hour” #483
Closing Song: “Draw Me Nearer” #306
Introduction: During the 10 days of prayer, we will be praying for the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-25.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
In the book Desire of ages on page 313 it says Christ longs to see His children reveal their character after his similitude. After his likeness he longs to see his earth children.
In II Chronicles 7:14 God says, “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn form their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”
Are we not called by Christ’s name? The name Christian means to profess or believe in the teachings of Jesus. So much so that the believer begins to take on the quality of the one he believes in.
The 26th verse of Galatians 5 tell “us to not become conceited, nor provoking one another or in no way envy one another.”
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face.
When a young couple begin to date, they long to see each other’s face. To look into each other’s eyes and express their hopes, their dreams and what they longing for the future.
God desires the same relationship with us. He desires a people that will humble themselves. A people that will take the time to pray.
As the young couple’s relationship grows their wanting to be around the company of their friends decreases proportionally as their love for each other grows.
God desires the same with us. A people that will put on hold their busy lives. A people that will stop to pray and that long to build a relationship with their creator.
Our young couple falls in love with each other. Marry, have a family and sometime later in life they discover they have taken on many of the characteristics of their partner. They can finish each other sentences. They can anticipate the needs and wants of the other before the words are even spoken.
God desires this same trait to be manifested in us. He desires us to establish a relationship so interwoven with Him that we begin to have the same character traits as Christ has. Christ while on earth and even after returning to heaven showed love and compassion toward fallen mankind. He shows joy over one lost sinner that repents.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. Matthew 5:9. Christ endeavored for all his earth children to be at peace with one another as Christ is at peace with all who faithfully follow him.
Longsuffering: Oh, the injustice Christ endured upon this earth. Yet he never complained. Sure his faith was tested in the garden and who of us wouldn’t feint on the eve of such a trial that he endured. Christ suffers long for his fallen children. Christ patiently endures the wickedness of this earth, so that his righteousness can be vindicated before heaven and the universe.
If Christ can endure all this, can we also not endure the trials set before us each day? And, hasn’t Jesus promised; “Lo I am with you always, even until the end of the age.
Christ showed kindness every day in every way even to those that persecuted Him, he asked that their sins not be held against them. If the king of the universe could show such kindness to those that hated him, can we not do the same for those that despise us?
Christ the faithful witness. Christ faithfully stood the test of temptation. He faithfully showed us what a relationship with His heavenly father and dare I say our heavenly Father can do for us. Christ daily went to a solitary place and prayed to His Father and to our Father. Without the faithfulness of Christ to fully trust in the Father, he would have failed. He faithfully shows us what a relationship with Him should be.
Gentleness: Suffer the little children to come unto me. Kids of all ages loved to sit close to Jesus. His gentleness and longsuffering was not a barrier to people, but became an attraction. Not for self-glorification, but to show us who the Father really is.
Our kindness and gentleness and longsuffering should also attract others to Christ. If we are really truly living a life in harmony with Christ, then every fiber of our being will be to lift Christ up to others.
As Christ showed self-control in everything He did. So we must do the same. If we truly have humbled ourselves, then submitting our will to God should not be a problem.
But the first step in all this is to Abide in Christ.
John 15:4-5 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothings.
A branch that is not part of the vine soon withers and dies. It is only when we are connected, grafted into the vine that the branch can receive the life giving nutrients from the vine.
A branch that is cut off or has broken away from the vine no longer receives those life giving nutrients and water.
The young couple that no longer communicates, no longer talks freely among themselves will not continue to grow and mature as a couple. Their relationship is doomed to wither and die.
So it is with Christ. When we are faithful to communicate with Him on a daily bases. When we no longer tell him our needs, our wants and our concerns, we cut ourselves off from him and his life saving power. As the sap that runs through the vine and branches bring life to the branches, so a daily relationship with Christ and our heavenly father brings lifesaving water and nutrients into our lives.
Matthew 7:20 “By their fruits ye shall know them.” As the Savior declared. All true followers of Christ bear fruit to His glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of the true godliness, and those who bear no fruit of this kind reveal that they have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the Vine. Jesus said, Abide in my, and I in you.
Without Christ we cannot subdue a single sin or overcome the smallest temptation. Many need the Spirit of Christ and His power to enlighten their understanding as much as blind Bartimaeus needed his natural sight.
If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves and be grafted into the life giving branch, then the vine will bear much fruit. If my people I will turn their face upon Me as a young lover with loving-kindness turns his face upon his bride. Then I will abide in them and they will bear much fruit.
How much do you want Christ to abide in you and you in Christ? Ask God in a special way to give you a deep desire to abide in Him.
Is there anything that would hinder the Holy Spirit from transforming your life? Take those things to God in prayer and surrender them to him.
Because the life giver with the love of a groom toward his bride is wanting to graft you into himself.
Shall we pray.
One Man With _______ Makes a Majority
Scripture Reading: Joshua 1:5, 6; No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
Additional Texts: Matthew 28:19, 20; John 14:15; John 14:1-4
Christmas is over. Perhaps you like me have noticed that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is filled with many people reflecting back at the past year. Or if the changing of the year brings a new decade then there is reflection over the past 10 years. It is only natural to look back at the past successes, reflecting with joy for what God has done in our country, in our church and in each of our lives.
Yet, it can be painful to look at the difficult times. To remember the times when things were difficult. When loved ones fell asleep waiting the great day of the Lord. When that job was lost or the new job didn’t come as it should. When loved one and friends became sick. It can be difficult to reflect back and see, oh, wow, I certainly didn’t live the life God wanted me too. I failed to rely on His guidance here, I didn’t stop to pray there.
As painful or joyful as our look back at the past year may be, with the coming of the New Year, there comes a hope that things will be better. That past mistakes will be forgiven. There is the hope of optimism that blossoms in the heart in anticipation of the arrival of a new year.
As optimistic as the prospects of a year may seem to be, there is that corner of your heart that wonders what the coming of the New Year will bring. What will happen to my loved ones? Will I find a new job? Can my marriage be repaired? Can I establish a greater relationship with Christ? What and who are the giants that lay in the year ahead?
For the past 30 days, the children of Israel had reflected back with fondness, remembering Moses and all that he had done for them. They had remembered fondly the leading of God in the dealing of their nation. They had made a renewed commitment to follow God and his laws. They did not make this with the same halfhearted attempt of their forefathers. Instead they eagerly committed their lives to following God and all his law.
Now as the 30 days of morning and reflection was coming to a close, Israel faced a New Beginning. New challenges and the dawn of a new era. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, they were about to cross the River Jordan and enter a new land.
Moses, their great leader was gone, Joshua was the new leader of Israel. Israel, a group of people that had completely changed over the last 40 years until there were just two, yes just two of them remaining. Joshua, and Caleb. Only two out of 2,000,000 people were left to see for themselves what the Promised Land had to offer.
In Deuteronomy 34:9; “Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
What a daunting task lay before Joshua and the children of Israel. Joshua, the task of becoming a leader. The children of Israel, to step out and do for themselves that which God had done for them the last 38 years.
At this time the Israelites were still east of the Jordan River. Which presents obstacle number 1. It is the spring of the year and the river is flooded. And obstacle number 2. Should they manage to cross the river, there is a problem because the land is full of giants and walled cities.
The diplomat paced the floor, thinking how to answer this latest set of dispatches from the East. How was he ever to sort out the conflicting reports! Which of the splinter parties was really loyal to his own nation? Was it the group in power now? Or were they just using the military and economic aid to feather their own positions? Of course they were corrupt, but would a different set of leaders prove any more effective? If he could only know which of the factions were under control of that other world power, then.…
He continued pacing.
If only he could see some light at the end of the tunnel.
To our diplomat who is pacing the floor of his office, he is faced with yet a different set of problems. He is part of the State Department. It is his job to keep all areas peaceful and maintain control in the area of land that we call the middle-east. This is no Kremlin diplomat who is concerned with the Middle East. Neither is the diplomat from any modern European country of even from the United States. Instead, he is an Egyptian diplomat, pacing in an office in the city of Akhetaton about the time of the Hebrew conquest of Palestine! And it is Palestine that is his concern.
Far to the north of Egypt, the last decades have seen the rise of a powerful rival empire – the Hittites. Egypt and the Hittites came into conflict when the Hittites removed parts of Syria and Pheonicia from Egyptian control.
During the 215 years that the Israelites had been in Egypt. Might I remind us all that book of Genesis is about God choosing a people. Abraham and his decedents to be the bearers of His good news and keepers of his law. He sent Joseph ahead to prepare a place for Jacob and his family. Only seventy members strong at the time they moved from Cana to Egypt. 215 years later when they prepared to leave there were now 2,000,000 people, including, men, women and children.
While the Israelites were away from Cana it had become a land bridge, a battle field between Egypt and other powerful tribes such as the Hittites to the North.
Had God not sent his chosen people to safety in Egypt, they surely would have been wiped out in the fighting that took place across Palestine.
Although His people became slaves in the land that protected them, it made their delivery from Egypt all the more powerful.
When the time came for his people to leave the protection of Egypt, God sent a series of 10 miracles to take place. These miracles were not against the people of Egypt, but instead were to prove to Egypt and the surrounding nations that there god’s were powerless against the God of heaven.
These miracles and the miracle which happened at the Red Sea weakened the Egyptians so that forty years later, our diplomat passing in his office was powerless and confused as to what should be Egypt’s next course of action. Our poor diplomats’ failures and successes only served to further the outworking of God’s plan.
Might I also point out that what happened in the diplomatic office of the state department of Egypt so very long ago isn’t much different that what happens on any given day here in the United States. There problems are much the same in trying to keep world peace. At night each would leave the office to return to a suburban home. On his way home he would pass crowed and disorganized clusters of apartment houses. While making is way home he would pass several cocktail parties with political maneuvering at every turn. Today it is between Republican and Democrats. The White house and Congress. For our diplomat it was the slippery slop of maneuvering between the Amon priesthood party and the party of Pharaoh. Life now is much as it was in ancient Egypt.
All this political intrigue with the weakening of the Egyptian nation created a power vacuum in Palestine. Seven states or small kingdoms now stood where God had promised to establish those he had instructed to spread the Gospel and be keepers of His law. Seven nations now stood where I giant world power had recently stood. God was preparing a way.
Even as emerging nations struggle today to establish their existence, so in Palestine the people of Israel were about to emerge as a nation, and to challenge a people long established there.
But what took place then has a unique timelessness. In the people and events described in God’s Word, we discover timeless truths about ourselves and our relationships with God. The Bible’s word of history becomes, by the activity of the Holy Spirit, God’s voice guiding us today. As we listen, learn, and respond to the One who speaks to us through the heritage of our sacred past, you and I can see our own years of darkness fade away, and welcome the days of glory that God intends to unfold for us.
Open your Bible with me this Morning to Joshua the first chapter.
And as you turn to Joshua 1, let me say this. God does not want a leaderless people. But He needs leaders who are uniquely equipped.
Joshua’s previous experience had prepared him for leadership. He had led the Israelite defense against an attack by the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8–16). This indicated previous battlefield experience. It’s likely he had served in the Egyptian army: foreigners were often enlisted into the military services in Egypt. As 1 of the 12 spies, Joshua had learned firsthand the topography of Palestine. At that time his trust in God had led him to advise immediate attack when all the other spies with the exception of Caleb urged the people to disobey. Later, at God’s direction, Joshua was invested with some of Moses’ authority (Num. 27:20).
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying:
2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.
5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.
6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Usually the road to significant leadership is a long one, with many choices along the way. What you and I do with our less significant opportunities determines the part we’ll play later!
But leadership demands more than character and experience. This first chapter of the book bearing Joshua’s name makes it clear that the leader’s relationship with God is crucial. Joshua had basic spiritual resources that are ours as well. How Joshua used the divine resources would make the difference between victory and defeat. What were his resources?
(1) Joshua had a promise in God’s stated purpose. “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses” (Josh. 1:3). God’s announced purpose was to give Israel the Promised Land.
(2) Joshua had the promise of God’s presence. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you” (v. 5). God had committed Himself to be with His servant and to take on Himself the burden of bringing success.
(3) Joshua had the promise of God’s faithfulness. “You will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them” (v. 6). God had committed Himself to a cause, and He would not let His promise fail.
In view of these commitments made by God, there was only one thing required of Joshua: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey the Law My servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (v. 7).
Neither discouragement nor fear were to influence Joshua to hesitate or to disobey. If Joshua would live in close relationship to the Lord, being responsive and obedient to Him, victory was assured. The leader must be a person who follows. A person strong enough and courageous enough to follow God.
As the mantle of leadership was being past from Moses to Joshua it is a reminder to us all that our leaders don’t lead forever. Years change from one year into another. In life people come and go. This is fine and is part of the fabric of life.
Each time a new event comes up before God’s people, God is looking for leaders. He is looking for a people that will have the strength to stand up and the courage to step out in faith.
I hear you asking; “So what does this have to do with me?”
God has given to each of us a promise, a purpose.
What is the promise and our purpose? God has promised each and every one of us here today the same promise and the same purpose. Turn with me to John 14:1-4; John 14:15; and then Matthew 28:19 and 20. We will start with John 14:1-4. John 14:1-4.
1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.
God’s promise is that he will build a place for us. A new home for those that do what? This was God’s promise, but what is his purpose.
And then Matthew 28:19 and 20. We know this as the great commission. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the son and of the Holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you: and Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age. Amen.
Joshua had a stated promise and a stated purpose. I will give you every place you set your foot as I promised Moses. God states to us today, his true followers, “Do not be troubled, you believe in God believe also in Me. My Father has created many mansions for you as a reward. A reward for what. For caring out our purpose. What is our purpose? Going forth and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you.
John 14:15. If you love Me, Keep My commandments.
As Joshua was commanded to keep the law ever before him. To meditate upon it day and night. Jesus says, If you love me, keep my commandments. If we really truly love God, then we will not turn our eyes to the left or to the right. But instead keep our eyes firmly fixed on the law giver who is the life giver who is the rewarder of our faith.
And again God gives us comfort with the last part of verse And then we finish 20 in the 28th chapter of Matthew. Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.
These few words we have just read spoken by Jesus sounds very familiar. They give us a promise of a reward. It states that God will come again and receive us to him. While the children of Israel were to inherit or receive earthly land as their reward for faithful service, God has promised us heavenly reward for faithful service.
As the Israelites of old where to bearers of the Gospel news and keepers of the law, so you and I are to do the same. Matthew 28:19 and 20 make that perfectly clear. Everywhere we go we are to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that God has commanded us.
Then he finishes it up with a promise. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
God has promised to go before us. To prepare our way before us. As God used the Hittite nation and the Miracles that took place in Egypt and at the Red Sea to prepare Both his people and create a power vacuum in which caused the promised land became ripe, ready to be taken by God’s chosen people He will do the same for you and I. Although the way before us may seem difficult if not impossible to cross, God has a way prepared for us to cross. Although the obstacles in front of us seem impenetrable, God can cause the walls of Jericho to fall, he can remove any obstacle before us.
But like the Israelites of old he is saying in John 14:15; “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If our stated purpose for this coming year is to make disciples of all nations. And there certainly are enough nations represented in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. So if our stated purpose is to make disciples of the people in our district, then we need to keep our eye on the law giver. Do not turn to the left or to the right, but keep our eyes focused on the one we love and the one who has promised to be with us always.
The title of Todays sermon is One Man with _________ Makes a Majority.
Strength, Faith, Courage, God
God asked Joshua to be strong and very courageous. God is asking us this morning to be strong and very courageous. For you see God is preparing the way and He is promising to always be with us. As the New Year is about to begin He is asking for One Child, or One Woman, or One Man, or One entire church with the Courage to step forward and take possession of our district, to make disciples of all the people in our district, teaching them all God’s commanded. Though like the children of Israel we are small in numbers, God will make us a Majority. He tips the balance of power in our favor.
So today, with God as our leader, no matter how young or how old you are. As this year comes to a close and we look with promise to a new year. With God before us. Will you be that young person with courage to step forward and make a majority with God. Will you be that woman to step forward with courage and make a majority with God. Will you be that man to step forward with courage and make a majority with God. Will we be that ONE CHURCH WITH COURAGE THAT MAKES A MAJORITY with God.
 The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Jos 1:1–9.