Expanding Our Territory in 2024
Sunday, February 4, 2024
Call to Worship: Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
We are in our final message in the book of Joshua and these last chapters are farewell instructions and warnings from their mighty leader, Joshua, to all of Israel. He was coming to the end of his days and was calling them to remember the great victories they had and who it was that gave them every victory. He was calling them to remember the battles they went through and it was God who fought for them. He was saying- Don’t become arrogant in this time of rest, forgetting who fought for you. Don’t be swayed by the way other nations are living or be lured to follow after their gods- stay true to your God, the Living God.
Joshua did this to instill in the current generation, a faithfulness and devotion to God alone, and a commitment to impart these truths to the next generations. He tells them you have all seen what the Lord your God has done for you bring you safely into this land you are now inhabiting and enjoying bountiful blessings from. You have seen how He fought for you against every nation that came against you. You have seen as you were faithful, no one could stand against you. You have seen how every promise God spoke has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Remember… don’t ever forget who your God is. Don’t ever forget His kindness to you. Don’t forget who you are as His chosen ones; called out, separate from others so His glory might be seen by all through your faithful worship and obedience.
Remember and tell of His mighty deeds often. Tell your children and grandchildren just as your ancestors told you of God’s faithfulness in their lifetime. Be careful to remember and stay true and it will go well for you all the days of your life.
These words apply to every Christian in every generation.
We’ll look at a section of Joshua’s farewell address and charge to Israel. Let us have ears to hear as we purpose to follow Christ.
Joshua 23: 6-14 NIV
6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. 9 “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
- Our Victories Are From God.
Israel was living in a time of rest from war, enjoying the good land they had been given by God. It can be easy to forget when life is going well and we are high on the mountaintops celebrating our victories-how we got where we are. We can forget who fought for us to be there. We can forget who shielded us from the enemy or who picked us up out of the pit and set us on the firm foundation we are currently standing on. We can forget how much we need God always, even in our peaceful seasons. Let us remember as Joshua charged Israel to remember, our victories are from God. Every victory we have in life comes from the grace and kindness of our God.
James 1:17 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
When good things are happening in our life it is right to give thanks to God for His kindness, generosity, and love. Let us remain humble before God and exalt His great name every chance we get; not ours. Let us certainly not equate good things to mere coincidence or luck-we are not a people who live by chance or luck. We live under the blessing, favor, and generous provision of the Lord God Almighty. Amen! The One who cares for our every need and blesses us out of the riches of His grace!
Joshua 23:3 You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you.
Joshua reminded Israel you have seen for your own eyes. You were there in those battles. You saw how God confused you; how God brought down huge hail stones; how God caused the light to be your advantage in fighting and bring you victory every time. Give honor and praise where it is due, to the Lord Almighty. Remember how you were beaten back by Ai when there was unresolved sin in your camp? You did not win that battle in your might; but as soon as you dealt with the sin, Ai couldn’t stand against you. Remember God fought for you and will always fight for you as you remain faithful to Him.
Joshua 23:9 “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you.
This is our truth also as a child of God. If God is for us, who can stand against us? Let no weapon formed against you prosper. But we like Israel must first and always remember our victories in life are from God and through Jesus Christ to Him be the glory!
If we forget and start going into battle alone; we should not be surprised when the enemy beats us down. For it is not about our glory; but His glory.
To remember, we must stay true to God, in our worship and our obedience. When we stop worshiping; when we pick and choose where we will follow; or when we bring Him into our lives begins the slippery slope of starting to forget who our victories come from and a turning of our hearts away from God.
- Stay True to God.
Joshua 23:12-13 12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.
This was a very serious warning Joshua spoke over Israel. This was not the first time they heard this message; God had said this all along faithful to Me; do not follow after other gods; do not get involved with these other nations because they will turn your heart away from Me and lead you into all sorts of dangerous temptations. They will destroy you. Sadly this would not be the last time Israel needed to hear this warning, so it was repeated often because our hearts are prone to wander.
What Joshua tells them is if they do these things- they will become snares and traps and thorns in your eye. Do you know it was this message from Joshua the Apostle Paul was referencing when he said he was given a thorn in his side? He knew of this message and what that meant Paul was a messenger of satan who was tormenting him at every turn in his ministry. To Israel, this is exactly what God was saying to them-they will become vessels for the enemy to work through and draw their hearts into sin and destruction. A thorn in your eye.
Then Joshua said, you will perish from this good land, that God has given you. So stay true to God!
God says the same to us yet today be careful and don’t get caught up chasing after worthless idols or false gods that will only be a snare and leave you empty or unfulfilled. His Word tells us to guard our hearts in His Son Jesus, so it remains pure before God. We must know these warnings aren’t given to merely create fear in God-we should fear God because He is God Almighty and He is holy, but these warnings are given and commands are given coming from His love for us. He tells us these things to protect us and so we can live in His abundant blessings including peace and joy.
Apart from Christ, we are subject to the enemy’s wrath and we step out of God’s protection. The evil one will use the temptations of this world to trap you and tear you down. Be aware and stay true to God.
Joshua called Israel to acknowledge what they already knew in their hearts- the promises of God were true and not one had failed. So, He was worthy of their faithfulness to Him.
Joshua 23:14 14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
In our heart of hearts, we too know God’s promises are true and no one will fail. We are created by Him, so in our spirit we know He is faithful and true.
It’s a matter of whether we let our flesh choose how we live, or if we’ll let the Spirit guide us in how we live.
Joshua 24:15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
In his final words, Joshua told all of Israel, to make a choice right now today in their heart and stick with it. If you’re not for God fine, then be upfront and deal with life on your own apart from His protection and favor. But if you say you are for God, then decide today and don’t live one foot in and one foot out. Decide in your heart and hold to it. He is worthy of our commitment for He has given nothing less to us.
To all of us right now-decide in your heart whom you will serve, because you will serve someone or something. Whom or what will it be? Let us say, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!
If you haven’t fully decided that before and you have been on the fence, lukewarm, hot, and cold-watch what happens in your life when you commit your heart fully to God!
This commitment requires a yielding of our hearts to God. You cannot fully serve God if your heart isn’t yielded to Him because you will constantly be seeking to serve yourself over God.
- Yield Your Heart to God.
Joshua 23:11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
Joshua told Israel to be very careful to love the Lord your God. In other words, be intentional, make every effort, and choose to love God. Open your heart to His love and give love in return. Why? Because if we choose to love God and intentionally position our hearts to love Him more and more, we will be more likely to stay true to Him. We will follow Him and our trust in Him will grow.
Joshua 24:23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
This is the key to choosing to yield our hearts to God, so He might truly lead us and fill us with His love. Admitting it is not you at the wheel any longer; you yield to God and let Him lead. You yield to the Holy Spirit and let Him teach you the ways of righteousness. You yield to Jesus and let Him live out of you, shaping you and the world around you.
When the Pharisees were looking for a way to trip Jesus up-one of the experts in the law asked Him what the greatest commandment-look was at how Jesus answered. It’s the same truth Joshua shared all those years before. Same truth today and for every generation to come.
Matthew 22: 36-37 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
God affirmed this through the prophet Jeremiah to all of Israel as he warned of their turning away and chasing after other gods and following the ways of pagan nations. God let it be known in one of my favorite verses in Jeremiah 29:11 I still have plans for you and your future and to prosper you and not harm you. Then God said following that promise you will find Me again when:
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
You see God knows our tendencies to drift away. He knows our wandering hearts. He knows our tendencies to forget who He is to us. He knows our tendencies to give ourselves the glory and to fall into the lures of the enemy. This is why He sends His messengers to charge us to remember who He is and what He has done; to remember to stay faithful and true; and to remember we must yield our hearts so He can truly be God and lord of our lives. So let us remember today and in our tomorrows. Let us teach our children and grandchildren so they know and then model the importance of remembering.
Conclusion: Let us humbly remember every victory is in Christ. May our hearts profess devotion to God and our lips proclaim: Lead me, guide me, and teach me, for You are my God in whom I trust and put my hope.
As Joshua called Israel to be faithful to God and yield their hearts to Him, so Jesus calls us to live faithfully taking time to share in this holy sacrament of communion. He calls us to remember as Joshua called Israel to remember where their victories come from, so our victory over death and sin is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. There is no other path to victory, but through the One who gave His life for us; the One who shed His blood that was without sin to atone for the sin of the world. We partake in this sacrament to remember exactly what Christ did on our behalf, to bring a humble and grateful heart before Him, and to surrender our hearts once again, recommitting as Joshua did, we will serve You, Lord. Commit in your hearts now.
Worthy are You Jesus! Worthy of all praise and worthy of our faithfulness. Every promise of God is true and through Christ, we say Amen.
Revelation 5: 12-13 Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! …To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!
Let us remember what a Savior we have.
Luke 22: 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “take this and eat. This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
We remember Jesus, the spotless lamb of God who died for us, and the Lion of Judah who rose and lives forever as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Worthy are You Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father who heart in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; They kingdom come; Thy will be done; on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Final Blessing: Psalm 121 The LORD keep you from all harm— the Lord watch over your life; the LORD watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Amen.
Go in confidence as a child of God-you are loved and your God is with you and for you always.