Fellowship 

Joshua 19:9
“The inheritance of the children of Simeon was included in the share of the children of Judah, for the share of the children of Judah was too much for them. Therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of that people.”

The Christian life was never meant to be a solo activity. The challenges and the opportunities of life are often much more than the individual believer can handle. Solomon wrote of the practical benefits of fellowship when he declared, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.” 

David wrote of the beauty of fellowship when he declared, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing – Life forevermore” (Psalm 133:1-3).

In our text, Joshua speaks of the value of fellowship when he explains that the inheritance given to Judah is too much for them to handle on their own, so the tribe of Simeon will assist them, and they will share the land.

As you move forward in your relationship with Jesus, it is vital to establish good and godly relationships with people who will help you become the person  God wants you to be. The Bible is filled with advice that will help you make good relationship decisions.

Proverbs 12:26
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Proverbs 27:17
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Proverbs 27:6
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Proverbs 27:5
“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.”

Pastor Jim

 

Walls 

Joshua 6:3
“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.”

As Joshua stood overlooking Jericho, wondering how to defeat such a mighty foe, I am sure none of his plans included marching his soldiers around the walls while playing music and eventually shouting at the top of their lungs. I imagine he used his extensive battle experience to carefully discern the weaknesses in Jericho’s wall, while studying the lay out of the land to see where the high points were, or how they might build a siege mound against the city. The pragmatic mind of a seasoned soldier would have a lot to say about how to conquer a well-defended city, but in this case, God had an entirely different approach in mind. If victory was to come, Joshua and all Israel, for that matter, had to understand that the ways of God are different than the ways of man.

Have you realized that? Have you come to grips with the reality that God often does things in surprisingly different ways than we do? The reasons for this are manifold, but include the fact that God always does things in a way that He receives the Glory, and we learn that He is trustworthy.

Paul put it this way,

“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-29

When the walls of Jericho lay flattened and the enemies of Israel defeated, the people would be forced to look up to God and celebrate His faithfulness, rather than to boast in their own strength or ingenuity. God desires to do the same thing in our lives. He wants to accomplish His will His way, so that when it is accomplished, He is glorified and we are able to trust Him for whatever obstacles are ahead.

God will not always do things the way we think He should, but He will always be faithful, and if we walk in obedience we will always find the victory He intends for us.

Pastor Jim

 

Remember

Joshua 4:9
“Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.”

The purpose of setting up a rudimentary stone altar was to remind the generations to come of the faithfulness of the Lord. Whenever someone walked by the area and saw stones stacked upon one another, it would be clear that it was not caused by nature, but by design and with a purpose. When they asked about the stones, the older generation would recall the stories of what God did, as a means of teaching the works and the ways of God. As time went on, these stone altars were scattered in many places throughout the land. The one we read about here is unique, not because of the way the stones were stacked, but because these stone would never again be seen since they would be covered by the flowing waters of the Jordan river. Why build an altar of remembrance that no one would ever see?

Paul alluded to Israel’s passing through the waters as a picture of baptism. Baptism illustrates the work that was done for us when we believed in Christ. Our sins were washed away, never to be seen again. These stone, buried under the flowing waters of the Jordan, serve as a reminder of the work that is done when we believe. Israel could look at the water and remember the faithfulness of God to keep His promises. In the same way, you and I can look back at the waters of baptism and remember the faithfulness of God. Perhaps you were baptized in the past and have since wandered from the Lord, and grown distant in your relationship with Him. Look back on those waters, think back to the joy you had when you were following  Jesus, reflect upon what it is that led you away, and return to the Lord who loves you, died for you, and wants to work out His plans in your life.

Pastor Jim

 

Parting Words

Joshua 23:2

“And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: ‘I am old, advanced in age.'”

 

The sun is about to set in the life and ministry of Joshua. After spending years being mentored in ministry by Moses, he ventured out as Israel’s leader. He led the nation as they furthered the kingdom of God, and became established in the land. Now that his time is coming to an end,  Joshua will give his final message to the people he has so faithfully served. His message could be divided into four main points of exhortation that would lead to their continued success. 

 

Joshua 23:6

“Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.”

 

Step one, they needed to read and obey the Scriptures. Clearly, the lifestyle, as well as the daily struggles of an agrarian society of thirty-five hundred years ago, would be drastically different than the challenges we face today. However, regardless of what we face, reading and doing what the Bible says is the secret to success. Set aside a time, daily, to be in the Word. 

 

Joshua 23:8

“But you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.”

 

Step two, cling to the Lord. Clinging implies closeness; it is impossible to cling from a distance. The secret to clinging to Christ is to remove anything from our lives which creates separation. David learned that compromise placed a wedge between him and the Lord. The one who once experienced sweet fellowship with God, found that unconfessed sin put a distance between him and the Lord. If you are hiding some sin, it is time to bring it into the open. Tell the Lord about it, and confide in a trustworthy believer who will pray for you.

 

Joshua 23:11 

“Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God.”

 

Step three might be step one. God created us to be in a love relationship with Himself. Jesus told us the most important of all  commands is to love God. We love Him by placing Him above all else. When my desire is to please God above even my desire to please myself, I am expressing true love and devotion. When we allow other things to stand on the same platform as the Lord, those things will begin to vie for our time, devotion, and obedience. Perhaps it is time to take inventory and remove anything which has been exalted to that place in life which only God should have. 

 

Joshua 24:14

“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!”

 

Step four is to serve the Lord. Without a doubt, there is a common denominator in the life of every successful follower of Christ. The common denominator is that they have gone from simply believing, to beginning to serve. This was true of the original followers of Christ, and it is equally as true today. If we want to see our Christian life begin to take off, we need to get involved in regular service. It is there, we will find healthy relationships that will encourage our growth, and where we will find ourselves in daily dependance upon the help of the Lord. 

 

The generation that heard Joshua, continued to follow and serve the Lord. Sadly, his exhortations were lost on the next generation, and they soon began to drift from God and experience defeat in life. 

 

Pastor Jim 

  

 

Serve God 

Joshua 24:14
“…Serve the Lord!”

Years ago Bob Dylan wrote a song that included the phrase, “You’ve got to serve somebody.” Centuries before, the Psalmist declared, we will become whatever we choose to serve. He stated, if we serve false gods we become like them, but if we choose to serve the True and Living God, we will become like Him. Our lives will be determined by what masters us.

Romans 6:16
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Sin is a reckless master. It makes promises it will never fulfill. When we choose to disobey the Word of God, getting involved in practices He forbids, it is not long before we are controlled by the very things we thought would be pleasurable. Drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, are all harsh taskmasters, destroying the lives of those who serve them.

With his final breath, Joshua pleads with Israel to serve the One who will transform their lives, and who promises to give them life. All those who stood before Joshua on that day have long since passed from this life. They found the exhortation of Joshua to be true. They came to realize the brevity of life and the length of eternity. Won’t you follow their lead, and choose today to serve the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Pastor Jim

 

Separation 

Joshua 22:26-27

“Therefore we said, ‘Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering nor for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may perform the service of the Lord before Him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings; that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, “You have no part in the Lord.” ’”

 

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh chose to separate from the rest of Israel and live east of the Jordan River. Although the Jordan is not a large river, and crossing it during the dry season would not be a difficult endeavor, this division would prove to be very costly.  It is clear from the event recorded in Joshua 22, the effects of this separation were felt immediately.  Once they returned to their land, they attempted to create a connection with the rest of Israel by erecting an altar that resembled the one in Shiloh. In their minds, this would keep them connected to Israel, even when the Jordan separated them. Their actions were considered to be idolatrous by the other tribes, who pleaded with them, that rather than building an altar, why not cross the Jordan and join the nation. A religious symbol is not the solution for a wandering heart. 

 

Idolatry is strictly forbidden by the Lord, because erecting an image gives us a false sense of the presence of God. When we begin to drift from Jesus, we do not need to get a larger bible or wear a religious symbol around our necks. What we need is to get back to spending time with the Lord in the pages of His word, and putting what we read into practice. Jesus explained that the secret to success for the Christian is to abide in Christ. He said, just as a branch derives its life from being connected to the tree, so the Christian will have a constant source of life, when he remains connected to Him (John 15:5). 

 

It is important we do not let anything, no matter how small it may seem, create separation between us and the Lord. A little bit of compromise can have a large impact on our relationship with God. 

 

Pastor Jim 

  

 

 

 

A Place To Stand

Joshua 21:45
“Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

A lot of my childhood was spent on the ocean. From as far back as I can remember, my dad had a boat and we would spend the summers taking vacations to Catalina Island. It was a great way to grow up. We would spend day after day on the boat, fishing, swimming, diving and exploring. When the vacation finally came to an end and we made the 27 mile journey back to the mainland, I experienced an interesting sensation. After so much time rocking back and forth on the boat, the ground seemed especially solid.

Life can seem like a journey at sea. We seem to get hit by unexpected waves, and the ground we are standing on is moving. If we are going to get through turbulent times, we need to have some solid ground to stand on.

After a lifetime of following the Lord through some very turbulent waters, Joshua confidently exclaimed that not a single promise of God had ever failed him. No matter what the obstacle, Joshua had learned by experience,  the promises of God are like a solid rock upon which he could stand.

I have found, for every experience of life, there is a promise to cling to. When facing the challenges of life, it is vital that the child of God look into the Word, find the appropriate promises, and then hide in them, like a bunker from the storms of life.

Some of the promises which have been particularly encouraging to me include:

2 Timothy 1:7
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Philippians 4:7
“. . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 13:5
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Isaiah 54:17
“‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me’, says the Lord
.”

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

2 Corinthians 3:5-6
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

In response to this blog a good friend sent me the following note.

“When I was diagnosed with an illness, a close friend gave me a list of “promise” verses. Honestly, at the time, I read through them and tucked them away, but that was about it. In the last 3 years, I can’t tell you how many times I pulled out that list and allowed the Word of God to comfort, strengthen and encourage me.

To your list I would add Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 61:1-4, Psalm 55:22 and so many more.”

Praying His Word will be like a safe harbor, and like solid ground, in the midst of the storms of life.

Pastor Jim