Expanding Our Territory in 2024
“Sun Stand Still.”
Bold Faith Promotes Bold Action.
Sunday, January 21, 2024
Welcome: Psalm 66: 1-5, 8-9, 18-20
Let us praise the Lord and sing of His awesome power and faithfulness! He is worthy of our praise! He is for us and He fights every battle on our behalf! We have a certain victory in Christ!
What is the boldest, most outrageous request and prayer lifted to God that you can think of?
What prompted such a bold request? Desperation-in need of a miracle? Faith rising over what is reasonable or logical and just believing in who God is?
When we allow our faith and the Spirit to guide our prayers, it is amazing what we will profess to God! All too often we hinder our prayers. We start to rationalize what is possible because we’re looking at the situation through our ability and our perspective, instead of through the infinite abilities and power of God Almighty.
When we come before God Almighty knowing who He is and we lift prayers of faith in Him, we see an awesome display of glory in our lives and those around us! There is nothing impossible for God!
We see an incredible example of bold faith such as this with Joshua that we’ll look at today. The awesome thing about Joshua’s bold profession of faith was that while it did benefit him and his men, the purpose of the request was so they could defend and rescue their neighbors it was a bold profession of faith to better serve others who needed rescue and protection.
There was a cry for help brought before Israel from the Gibeonites and they were pleading for Joshua and his army to come rescue them and save them from gentile kings who rallied together to fight and conquer Gibeon. Now these nations were also conspiring ways they could ultimately defeat Israel, but at the moment this was not Israel’s fight; until they heard the cry for help and made it their fight.
What we need to understand is before this, word got out about Israel’s defeat at Jericho and Ai. Gibeon was afraid and rightly so they would be the next nation conquered and wiped out. They came up with a scheme to pretend they were a nation from afar that would travel in asking for a treaty with Israel. They would say, “We’re not close so let’s be friends and neighbors.” They took old bread, and old wine skins to make it look like they had journeyed a long way. Then they said, “We are your servants-make a treaty with us.” Israel sampled the bread and wine but didn’t inquire of God about the intentions of these people. Joshua made a peace treaty with them and made an oath swearing to God to uphold it. Then it became known they were a neighboring nation. But now there was an oath made to God they wouldn’t harm them. So Joshua after confronting them said- let them live but they will be woodcutters and water carriers in service to our people. “They agreed and said we did this because we were afraid and now we are in your hands.”
With this in mind, let’s pick up our key Scripture and see how Joshua responds to the cries for help from his new neighbors, the Gibeonites. And let’s see how God works well into our self-made decisions when we uphold our commitments to help others and do good to them. This gives perspective on the command, “Love your neighbor”.
Joshua 10: 6-14 NIV
6 The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.” 7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” 9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
- Readily Respond and Rescue.
Joshua 10: 6-7 6 The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.” 7 So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men.
Joshua could have responded differently to their plea, especially since they were sneaky in getting the peace treaty with Israel. Joshua and his men had their battles to face and had just been in two recent battles-were likely exhausted and looking forward to a bit of downtime. And now you’re coming up asking us to fight for you and save you?
Have you felt that? I have my battles I’m going through. Lord, now? No rest in between? Come back next month and we’ll see if we feel more like helping.
But Joshua didn’t respond with any of that. We don’t know if his humanness felt those twinges for a moment, but we do see his actions. They pleaded to come quickly! Joshua came right away and brought his army with him. He was prepared to fight these other nations and stand with the Gibeonites.
Why? Because he made a treaty with them and he was a man of honor-it would honor God in how he upheld his commitment to keep peace with this nation. He also knew their peace was also Israel’s peace. They were neighbors now through this treaty and no longer enemies. God calls us to love our neighbors.
Here was another opportunity to bring glory to God because this time Joshua heard from the Lord to go; that He would be with them. If God said so, Joshua would obediently follow. So not only would it strengthen Israel’s faith to see God fight for them, but it would shine light into the Gibeonites hearts who God was and is. Almighty and Sovereign. Faithful and True to those who love Him. This is why we love our neighbors-to reveal God’s love.
As we’re taught, if we have it within us to help another in need, then we are to do so.
Proverbs 3: 27-28 NASB 27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it to you,”
When you have it with you.
Galatians 6: 2-3 NLT Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
This is still the case for us today; God will use us in ways we can assist and help others, sometimes even rescue them, and if it’s in our power to do so, we should help them. We should show kindness, goodness, and compassion, and even go into battle with them and stand together. By faith, we trust God is with us, and in our faithful obedience, He will be glorified.
- Trust the Lord’s Counsel.
We shouldn’t just rush into things without inquiring of the Lord. Because then we can be scattered, fragmented, and running ahead of what God’s purposes are. There is no shortage of ways to help others and rescue people right? The needs and cries are endless in this broken world. But we are called to help where we can and to love our neighbors what is the balance?
We seek the Lord and hear His counsel on when and how we step in. Then we listen and follow that which He has instructed us to do. If we don’t seek God we just take it upon ourselves to do what we think is good and right in the moment but might not be part of God’s purposes in this situation; and might not bring about the best solution He has in the works already and might distract you from doing something else He has for you. We are to respond and act yes, according to what God calls us to do. It’s learning to seek and listen for God’s counsel that takes practice versus just reacting.
In this case, Joshua sought the Lord and God gave the green light- go and fight for this nation; stand against these forces coming against them and I will be with you. I will show My awesome power and that it is I who reigns over all; and that I choose whom I place my favor upon. This battle will bring My name glory.
Joshua 10:8 8 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
Joshua listened and acted out of obedience and faith. The result?
Joshua 10:9 9 After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon.
Joshua heard the cry for help, sought the Lord in how he was to respond, and went forward with what he had to respond and rescue his neighbors. He went in his faith of who God is and brought his army trusting God would position them to be victorious if they took their battle stance. Then do you see what happened? God was on the front lines fighting the battle!
This is what faith does, compels us to act. When we believe in God and all He is and that His Word is true; when we have His Spirit flowing in us and we align our hearts with His, we can’t help but respond to the cries for help and hope. We can’t help but extend kindness, mercy, compassion, and love to others as God makes it known to us. Without action, our faith is of no value and is considered dead. It is because of faith; that we live in service to God and others.
James 2: 17-18 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
So as we seek and hear from God, let our faith compel us to make bold requests of favor to help us in our aid to others. For when we know who God is, we should believe and confidently ask for His mighty power and presence to change the impossible to possible.
- Boldly Ask for Favor.
Joshua 10: 12-13 12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.
Ponder that just a moment what Joshua asked God to do. Isn’t that wild? Have you ever dared ask for such a thing of that magnitude? I experienced something pretty awesome several years back we were baptizing a bunch of youth if you recall, at the lake in Pardeeville. It was a cloudy day and it was a bit chilly out. So I prayed Lord remove the clouds over this lake and let the sun shine during this time of baptizing. And He did! It wasn’t life or death but I tell you that it was faith-building for me and showed me I can ask for bold things and trust God hears and God responds when it’s in alignment with His will. He delights in blessing us and in bringing glory to His name!
Jeremiah 32:27 27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Jesus taught as we are aligned with Him, one in spirit that we can have the boldness to ask for anything in His name and trust in faith it will come about.
John 14: 13-14 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
When is the last time you have made a bold profession of faith to God and asked for something that doesn’t stand to reason or that might be impossible for you to do on your own but you believe God can do it?
Oh that we have faith to boldly ask God to move mightily in our lives, families, communities, country, and world! We believe in so little. We hold higher weight on all that can’t happen or couldn’t possibly come about- we doubt what could be far more than we profess in faith what our mighty God can and will do, so He might be glorified!
As we want to expand further into living in the Blessings and Favor of God, we must choose faith over doubt. We must believe in who we know God is, not in what our circumstances are showing us. Joshua commanded the sun to stand still so his men would have daylight until their battle was finished. Now that is a bold request!
This was not to Joshua’s glory though; it was to God’s glory! His sovereign power was fully on display and this bold request of faith, not only strengthened Joshua’s faith all the more, it renewed Israel’s faith that God was truly for them and no one could stand against them when God was for them. It also showed the Gibeonites that God is merciful and through the faith of His chosen ones, His favor, mercy, and rescue can come to their aid. That God will show mercy and compassion to whom He chooses. And it showed the surrounding enemies He is not a God to mess with and will defend His chosen ones.
So what might your bold profession of faith and request to God show others around you?
Do you believe in all He is? Do you believe nothing is impossible with God? Do you ask for the impossible to be made possible so God might be glorified through the Son? Do you make it known and profess it for others to hear and see your faith?
A great part of our maturing in Christ is gaining greater boldness because we learn who He is and we know His heart. Our boldness in asking for His favor and help is a huge part in making Him known to others-which we are all called to do. Love God with all our heart and Love our neighbors. Both of these call for bold faith and bold action.
So in 2024, I am challenging each of us to choose one area of our lives in which we need help, relief, rescue, restoration, or new life. It could be us directly or someone connected to us we pray for. Choose one area of focus to pray for and with the help of the Holy Spirit, write a bold prayer that seems impossible right now. Write it out in faith even if it seems ridiculous. Then come back the next day and say that’s not bold enough and let the Spirit guide you bigger and bolder. What does your heart truly want and need in this area? Profess it in prayer. Then keep praying for that bold profession of faith and stand in it. Your mind doesn’t have to fully believe it right now that’s ok. Let it be led by your heart. Keep praying it this year and let’s believe in bold breakthrough! Let’s believe in rescue for those who need it! Let’s believe in the new that God is doing! Are you willing? This is how we expand into the territory we have been given and the best part is taking others with us!
Conclusion: We are called to live a life of service to God and others. Let us be responsive and ready to stand in battle for others. Let us trust in God and boldly request that which will aid in victory; for nothing is impossible with God! All glory be to God when we act in bold faith!
Final Blessing: Let us rejoice! Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Ephesians 3: 20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.