By Faith, Rahab

A while back Meagan and I discovered a television show called Turn. The show is about spies in the Revolutionary War. I like the show because I love history, especially Revolutionary War history. I have read books and biographies on that time period. I remember reading a book about Alexander Hamilton and that book talked about what would have happened to our founding fathers if we lost the war. So, the show Turn always has me on the edge of my seat. I am always thinking, “Oh no, I hope he is not caught by the British!”

In real life, I have read and have knowledge of Christians meeting in secret because of fear of persecution. I have read and have shared with you stories, real stories of people being imprisoned for having a Bible in many countries today.

I want us to look at the narrative of how Rahab protected the spies. She was trusting the Lord, even though she was not Hebrew. I want to show you how the Hebrew spies trusted the Lord as well.

I hope you and I can think about where our trust is.

Let’s read Hebrews 11:31:

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Now, turn back to Joshua 2 and I want to read verses 1-24:

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.”

14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. 16 She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.”

17 Now the men had said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.”

21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.”

So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 When they left, they went into the hills and stayed there three days, until the pursuers had searched all along the road and returned without finding them.23 Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”

  1. Let me share a few words about this passage. We must know the passage before we can apply the passage:
    1. Joshua 2:1-7: The Intro: Spies sent out, Rahab hides the spies and tricks the king’s men
      1. This is not the first time they tried to spy out the land:
      2. Numbers 13:2: The Lord had told Moses that they would have the land of Canaan. The Lord keeps His promises.
  • In Numbers 13-14 Moses sent twelve spies out to look over the Canaanite land and look it over about its’ defenses, manpower, and fertility.
  1. Joshua was one of those spies. Now Joshua sends the spies out. (Numbers 13:8)
  2. Joshua’s name was then Hoshea. Moses changed his name to Joshua.
  3. Joshua and Caleb were the only spies of the 12 sent who came back with faith that they could take the land. (Numbers 14:30)
  • The other ten said they were like grasshoppers in the sight of them.(13:33) Because of their lack of faith they had to wonder in the wilderness 40 years. Some of them died. (numbers 14:28-45)
  • In Numbers 22-24 Balak was afraid of the Israelites although the Israelites were afraid of the Canaanites.
  1. Now, the men are sent, two of them to view the land.
  2. It says especially Jericho.
  3. They end up in the house of a prostitute.
  • James 2:25: In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
  • Verse 2: the king of Jericho finds out that spies are in town.
  • Verse 3: the king of Jericho goes to Rahab and suspects her.
  1. Interesting that she responds and he leaves her alone.
  • Verse 4-5: she admits they did come to her, but she did not know where they were from.
  • She recommends to pursue them quickly.
  • Verse 6: this verse explains how she had hid them under stalks of flax on the roof.
  • Verse 7: the pursuers leave and they shut the gate.
  1. Joshua 2:8- 14: Rahab confesses the Lord is Lord and the beginning of the deal of two way protection
    1. Verse 8: before they lay down: this must mean that she slept there.
    2. Verse 9-11:
  • She admits that the Lord has given them the land. She admits that there is fear because of the Lord.
  1. She speaks of different events that they have heard:
    1. They have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the sea of Reeds or Red Sea.
    2. The two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordon.
    3. To Sihon and Og who they utterly destroyed.
  2. Their hearts melted when they heard this.
  3. They had no courage.
  • The confessions: The Lord their God is God in Heaven above and in earth beneath.
  • Verses 12-14: She wants a pledge that her father’s household will be spared (mother, brothers, sisters and their families).
    1. She says that she has dealt good with them.
    2. The two men say that they will be spared.
  1. Joshua 2:15-21: The Promise to Rahab
    1. Verse 15: She lets them down a rope.
    2. Notes that she was living on the city wall.
  • There is interesting information about her house on the wall:
    1. Translated literally, the Hebrew reads, “Her house was against the vertical surface of the city wall, and in the city wall she lived.” How was her house preserved when the wall fell? Remarkably, archaeology provides an answer. German excavations from 1907–1909 on the northern section of the site uncovered a portion of the lower city wall that did not fall as it did everywhere else. The still-standing section rose as high as 8 feet (nearly 2.5 m), with houses built against it still intact. A second wall at the crest of the embankment revealed that these particular houses were situated between the upper and lower city walls and were thus “in the city wall.” Since the lower wall also formed the back wall of the houses, an opening (window) in the wall would have provided a convenient escape route for the spies. From this northerly location it was only a short distance to the hills of the Judean wilderness, where the spies hid for three days (2:16, 22). See also “New Testament Jericho”.
  1. Verse 16: she recommends a route:
  2. the hill country
  3. three days of hiding, then go on your route
  • Verse 17-19: the terms of the oath. They are free unless certain conditions are met:
    1. Scarlet thread hangs outside the window
    2. Gather in the house all the family
    3. Father
    4. Mother
    5. Brothers
    6. Father’s household
    7. If they leave the house the Israelites are not responsible for them.
    8. The Israelites are responsible to protect anyone in her house.
    9. If she reports of this the Israelites are free from this oath.
  • Verse 20-21: she agreed to the terms.
  1. They left.
  2. She tied the scarlet cord on the window.
  1. Joshua 2:22-24: The men escape
    1. They leave and the pursuers did not find them.
    2. Verse 23: They leave and return to Joshua son of Nun.
  • They share what happened.
  1. Verse 24: they share the fear the people have.
  1. We must trust the Lord as the spies did.
    1. I notice in the first few verses that these spies went out into a dangerous city and trusted the Lord. I have read about how people back then would treat prisoners. They would make Jack Bauer look nice. That is a reference form the show I have read accounts of them cutting off a person’s thumbs and big toes and letting them go. They risked it all.
    2. Can we trust the Lord like the Hebrews spies did?
    3. Will we go into a hostile area for ministry?
    4. Will we go out and share Jesus with other people?
    5. It is my goal that we have a foreign mission trip in the next few years.
  • We must trust the Lord as Rahab did.
    1. If the spies are foreign mission, I guess we could call Rahab local missions.
    2. Will we offer to pray with someone in public? These are little things but they are big for us aren’t they?
    3. Why not trust the Lord with your life, get involved in a new ministry.
      1. The food pantry is a possibility.
      2. Do you know that Men’s Challenge needs mentors.
  • The Caring Committee is a great ministry of this church and they need more volunteers.
  1. I know that Keith and Tonya need helpers with certain youth activities.
  2. Maybe there is a ministry idea on your mind, what do you have to fear? Bring it up.
  1. Certainly many of you need commended for your work with Mission Encounter and many other ministries.
  2. However, even within these ministries, how do we lay it all on the line? How do we share Jesus?
  3. Sometimes it is the introduction which is the hard part and I think children can help with that. Mercedes and I will be running together and she will see people and say, “Who is that? Does she go to our church?” Occasionally, we are at the grocery store and the same thing happens. Mercedes will ask, “Who is that, does she go to our church?” Recently, Meagan was at Rite Aid in the drive through and the lady called Meagan by her name and Mercedes said, “Who is that? How does she know our name? Does she go to our church?” This led to a conversation.
  4. I was in an evangelism class in college and the professor shared a story about a student who had a problem stuttering. In class we always shared times when people received Christ. This student who stuttered had lots of opportunities to share Christ and victories. On one occasion he shared Christ with a motorcycle gang. Sounded scary. The professor asked the student’s partner how the student was doing with stuttering. The partner says, “When he is sharing the Gospel, he doesn’t stutter.”
  5. Wow!!!
  6. Do we trust the Lord in living the Christian life?
  7. Do we trust the Lord in standing up for TRUTH?
  1. The Lord is Sovereign, look at the big picture of Rahab and the Bible:
    1. The Lord knew what would happen.
    2. Nothing took God by surprise. Even though the first spies failed, the second did not. What did God do with Rahab?
    3. Rahab ended up being listed in the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:31.
    4. Rahab was used as an example of good works in James 2:25.
    5. In Mathew 1:5 Rahab is mentioned as an ancestor of Jesus.
    6. In Mathew 1:4-5 it shows that Rahab ended up being the wife of Salmon whose son was Boaz.
    7. Boaz ended up being Ruth’s husband. (Ruth 4:13)
    8. Boaz was the grandfather of Jesse who was the father of David the second King of Israel.
    9. We never know what God is doing do we? But God is at work.

Conclusion:

How can God use your faith today? How can God use your faith today for tomorrow?

Think about that. I can go out of this place and share Jesus with someone and this can change their life. Really.

Greg Stier, founder and leader of the youth convention Dare2Share, and widely sought after speaker writes about taking his son and his friends to share the Gospel with people at a mall. He then recounts a story of his own time sharing the Gospel:

I’ve seen God do some unbelievable miracles in the context of “stranger danger” evangelism. Almost 20 years ago I gave a drunk guy named Kevin a brand new More Than a Carpenter book after fruitlessly trying to share Jesus with him and his drinking buddies. Between the F-bombs, he promised to read it. Ten years later he walked into my office and threw that now marked up edition of Josh McDowell’s classic book on my desk. He said, “I read it. I trusted in Jesus. And now I carry 40 of those in the trunk of my car to hand out to the young people I meet.”

I would have totally missed that opportunity if I could only share the Gospel with him in the context of a relationship. The only reason I shared the message is because God put him and his two drunk friends on my heart as I walked past them at a shopping mall. I saw them there, obviously drunk, and God just moved in me to tell these complete strangers about Jesus.

It seemed like a complete bomb at the time. I remember thinking to myself that I just wasted that perfectly good book on a guy who will never read it. Boy was I wrong! Who knows how many will be in heaven as a result of us scattering seeds of hope wherever we go? God knows! And someday, on the other side of eternity, we will meet them and be shocked at the difference all those conversations made!

Another blessing, especially of taking teenagers out to share the good news with strangers, is that they are forced to rely on God.

How are we relying on God today?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

Advertisements

We are to nurture our Children Spiritually, physically, emotionally

It is Father’s Day once again.
I enjoy being a father. It is the most important job that I have. I notice certain things about this job more and more. I notice responsibilities, pressures and joys. Just yesterday I was running with Mercedes and she had her barbies with her and she was having a good time. She was singing and talking and pretending while I was running.

As I look at Hebrews 11:23 I find that Moses’ parents protected him. I want to charge this congregation that we are to protect and nurture our children spiritually which has repercussions physically and emotionally. We are to look out for the spiritual needs first and then physical and emotional can fall in line.

Let’s read these passages.

Hebrews 11:23:

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

Exodus 1:15-2:4

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

The Birth of Moses

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sisterstood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Certainly, we see that the Hebrews midwives were part of the protection process, but the focus is on Moses’ parents. I am not going to teach this passage. I want to focus on the whole of the Scriptures ways we are to protect and nurture our children spiritually and this has impacts physically and emotionally.

Before I talk about the spiritual aspect, let’s talk about forgiveness and second chances. Some of you are parents of children who are not grown and I hope this can help you along. I suspect that most of you are grandparents or your children are grown. What does this mean to you? I hope that as a Christian whenever the Word of God is preached that helps you. I hope we thirst for the Bible because as God’s Word it is part of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) However, I think these applications can help you be better grandparents and parents still. There are some things that a grandparent can talk about with his or her grandchildren that a parent never can. Now, what if you never led spiritually? It is never too late. I think the first step is to humbly talk with your adult children and say this is where I was when you were growing up. Tell them that you made mistakes that you were not a Christian or certainly not a growing and committed believer. Tell them that now you are a believer in Christ. Model being a Christian regardless of age. Pray for your children, regardless of age. After today, you are more informed, but apply it as you can.

So, how do we protect and nurture our children as Moses’ parents protected and nurtured him?

  1. Spiritually, we watch over our children spiritually. This is first because this is most important. Without Christ we have nothing. Without Christ our children have nothing. OH, but with Christ we have everything. With Christ our children have everything.
    1. Life jacket illustration:

One day, some men and boys went fishing on a lake. Before they got into the boat, they began to put on their life jackets. One of the men refused to put on a life jacket. Perhaps he thought it made him look like a weakling, or maybe he thought, “I know how to swim. If anything happens I can save myself.” They had only been on the lake for a short time when a sudden storm came up. The wind blew and the waves became so high that they turned the boat over. The ones who were wearing life jackets made it to shore and were saved. The man who was not wearing a life jacket drowned because he had refused to take the one thing that could have saved him.

The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus wants to save us and take us to Heaven to be with him, but there are some people who think they might look weak if they admit that they need Jesus. They think that they can take care of themselves without him. When the storms of life come up, they are thrown overboard and are lost forever because they refused to take hold of the one thing that could save them… Jesus.

It is foolish to go out onto the water without a life jacket, but it is even more foolish to try to sail the sea of life without Jesus!

  1. Psalm 78:1-6: My people, hear my teaching;
    listen to the words of my mouth.
    I will open my mouth with a parable;
        I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
    things we have heard and known,
        things our ancestors have told us.
    We will not hide them from their descendants;
        we will tell the next generation
    the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
        his power, and the wonders he has done.
    He decreed statutes for Jacob
        and established the law in Israel,
    which he commanded our ancestors
        to teach their children,
    so the next generation would know them,
        even the children yet to be born,
        and they in turn would tell their children.
  2. We must start this spiritual upbuilding when our children are young.
  3. What type of legacy to you wish to leave to your children?
  4. Sitting at his father’s bedside after watching him take his last breath, John Piper spoke these words:

    I look you in the face and promise you with all my heart: Never will I forsake your gospel. O how you believed in hell and heaven and Christ and cross and blood and righteousness and faith and salvation and the Holy Spirit and the life of holiness and love. I rededicate myself, Daddy, to serve your great and glorious Lord Jesus with all my heart and with all my strength. You have not lived in vain. Your life goes on in thousands. I am glad to be one.

  5.  Max Jutes was a no-account horse thief, drunkard whose 1299 descendants were studied. 310 became vagrants, 440 lived in debauchery, 180 became prisoners, including 7 murderers, 100 alcoholics, 60 habitual thieves, and 190 prostitutes. Contrast this with the family of the great 18th century preacher, Jonathan Edwards. A study done by A. E. Winship revealed that of 1700 descendants, 13 became college presidents, 65 were professors, 100 studied law (one dean of a law school), 30 became judges, 66 were physicians (one dean of a medical school), 80 held public office, 3 were US senators, 3 became mayors of large cites, 3 were elected governors, 1 was vice president of the US and 1 became Controller of the US Treasury. Long term studies of just these two lives and families show we are the products of over 100 years of our forefathers’ actions and decisions and that WE affect our descendants’ lives for over 100 years.
  6. Name some “ripple effects” you’ve seen go on for generations in your family, good and bad (Deut 5:6-10; Gal 6:7-10). Do you believe you can break bad cycles and be life-giving as you pass on a godly legacy?
  7. I have recently notice Mercedes picking up on things. We go through devotions most everyday and she is at church frequently. I will take her running and biking. She rides in the jogging stroller or the bike pull behind. We see people and say “hi.” Mercedes will say, “Who is that, does she go to our church?” We will be at Wal Mart and Mercedes will see people and say, “Who is that? Does she go to our church?” A few weeks ago Meagan was at Rite Aid and the lady at the window said hi to Meagan, calling her by her name. Mercedes said, “Who is that? How does she know your name? Does she go to our church?” The lady heard this and Meagan was able to talk with her about church. The pharmacist tech said that her relative attends our childcare because she say me lead prayer at an event.
  1. The spiritual is most important and this impacts the physical.
    1. This includes purity and modesty as well as modeling work habits and teaching them responsibility.
    2. 2 Thess. 3:10: For even when we were with you,we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
    3. 1 Timothy 5:8: Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has deniedthe faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
    4. The spiritual impacts the emotional. Emotionally, we watch over our children emotionally
    5. John Ortberg shares the following in his book: The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People:

 I was leaving for work after a tense morning at home. I had snapped at the kids, I was feeling pushed for time, and I was preoccupied. As I was going out the door, my son Johnny asked whether I was coming to visit his class that day for the hour when parents were invited. I started to snap “no” and then felt a discernible tug. Something— Someone— invited me to think things over. I felt a stab of pain at my impatience that morning, at the needless hurt I had impetuously caused those I love. That pain, I believe, was part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I apologized as best I could and told Johnny I would be at his school.

When I arrived at Johnny’s class, I observed that all but two or three children had parents there. Johnny’s face lit up. For the next half-hour he sat in my lap as we joined in the activities. We were each to draw a picture— not a task I enjoy, being unable to draw a straight line. What made it worse is that the dad next to me drew like Michelangelo. He sketched a hearthside scene, incorporating perspective, shading, and chiaroscuro.

“Use some blue, Daddy,” his son said. “No,” said Michelangelo. “That would throw off my color scheme.” The teacher came by, looked at the man’s drawing, then called the other parents just to observe it. She pointed out mine as a kind of study in contrast. Now I felt another kind of guilt— the guilt of an inadequate artist. But that was the pain of creatureliness, not something that calls for repentance. I had to find another way to deal with my inadequacy. So I waited until the dad next to me wasn’t looking, then marked on his picture with a blue crayon. Then I had something to confess. I looked at Johnny’s picture: clouds, snow, one tree, and what looked like Barney the dinosaur with a human face. Underneath my son had a caption: “I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow.” I felt pretty good about the sequence. When it was time for the parents to leave, Johnny grabbed me and said, “I just can’t let you go.” I left, but for a few moments I just stood in the doorway and looked at my son. It seemed like only a few years ago that I was a little boy in first grade. Now here he was. Now it was my son’s day. That is his little world— his little turkey up on the chalkboard, his little desk, his slender little fingers determinedly gripping the pencil, his learning how to make letters. And in what will seem like only another few days, he will be the one standing in the doorway and it will be his little boy sitting at the desk. “What if I hadn’t come?” I mused. “What if he had sat here all alone while other kids were surrounded by their parents? How long will I carry in my heart that little picture that says, ‘I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow’?”

That little stab of pain that called me to think again, to decide differently, is spoken of in the church as the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We can all experience that. It is the still small voice that nudges us and says, “You have spoken bitter words that have hurt someone. You need to go back and make things right.” “You cheated on your taxes. You need to make restitution.” (One financial expert who works with an evangelical clientele estimates that 50 percent of his clients cheat on their tax returns.) “You spoke deceit. You need to go back and tell the truth.”

This is hopeful pain, the sorrow of wounds that heal.     

Ortberg, John; Ortberg, John (2009-05-18). The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (p. 137). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Close:

A few years ago there was a movie called Courageous, this resolution is in the bulletin. Men, young men, older men, men without children, men with great grandchildren, if you would stand, let’s read this together.

Show clip from the movie:

Courageous Resolution:

  • I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
  • I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the

spiritual leader of my home.

  • I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my

life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.

  • I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of

their minds, and all of their strength.

  • I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
  • I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
  • I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
  • I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
  • I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
  • I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a

man answerable to God.

  • I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His

will.

  • I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

By Faith Joseph

Author Philip Yancey writes:

In high school, I took pride in my ability to play chess. I joined the chess club, and during lunch hour could be found sitting at a table with other nerds poring over books with titles like Classic King Pawn Openings. I studied techniques, won most of my matches, and put the game aside for 20 years.

Then, in Chicago, I met a truly fine chess player who had been perfecting his skills long since high school. When we played a few matches, I learned what it is like to play against a master. Any classic offense I tried, he countered with a classic defense. If I turned to more risky, unorthodox techniques, he incorporated my bold forays into his winning strategies. Although I had complete freedom to make any move I wished, I soon reached the conclusion that none of my strategies mattered very much. His superior skill guaranteed that my purposes inevitably ended up serving his own.

Perhaps God engages our universe, his own creation, in much the same way. He grants us freedom to rebel against its original design, but even as we do so we end up ironically serving his eventual goal of restoration.

If I accept that blueprint–a huge step of faith, I confess–it transforms how I view both good and bad things that happen. Good things, such as health, talent, and money, I can present to God as offerings to serve his purposes. And bad things, too–disability, poverty, family dysfunction, failures–can be redeemed as the very instruments that drive me to God.

Philip Yancey, “Chess Master,” Christianity Today (5-22-00), p.112

 

Today, let’s talk about Joseph and his faith. If you know of Joseph in the Old Testament he had quite a roller coaster ride. Beginning in Genesis chapter 37 it is written about Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt. From seventeen until thirty years old Joseph was in slavery and/or prison in Egypt. (Genesis 37:2 and 41:46) Following his imprisonment he becomes second in charge of all of Egypt and God used him to rescue the people of Egypt and Israel. God preserved Israel through Joseph.

Now, we come to the end of the book of Genesis and Joseph’s final recorded words. First, let’s read Hebrews 11:22:

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

Now, turn to Genesis 50:22-26:

Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

 

My theme and application is that we can learn trusting God through Joseph.

What can we learn from Joseph’s faith and blessings?

  1. God has visited us as Joseph said He would. (verse 24)
    1. Do you see that in verse 24: God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”?
    2. By the way this is the first time we see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob mentioned together in this way. God promised the land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they never saw the fulfillment. Now, they are in Egypt. What are they to do? Joseph tells them that God will come to their aid. Joseph tells them that they will come out of Egypt.
    3. We learn trust from Joseph. Joseph was pretty much the Secretary of State of the nation of Egypt. He was highly revered. He could have trusted in Egypt but he did not. Joseph still clung to God’s promises. Joseph had faith trusting in the Promised Land.
    4. I think that Joseph had his own royal chariot and his own cooks and the ear of the Egyptian Pharaoh but his trust was not in that.
    5. God did come to their aid.  
    6. God has come to our aid as well.
    7. God came to Israel’s aid some 430 years later and he blessed the world through Jesus Christ.
    8. We can trust in the same promised that Joseph was trusting in.
    9. Remember: Immanuel: God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
  2. We have been redeemed; we are given the promise of the Promised Land, though we are not there yet. In Joseph’s context, the people were not yet redeemed out of slavery and given the Promised Land, yet Joseph prophesied this. (verse 24)
    1. Sometimes we have promises, but we have to wait on them.
    2. Joseph promised his brother’s that they will go to the promised land, but they had to be patient.
    3. Now, they could wait patiently and comfortably because at that point the Pharaoh was friendly to the Hebrews. (that is because they brewed good coffee, at least the “he’s” did) Eventually, Exodus 1 tells us the Pharaoh was no longer friendly to the Hebrews, but they still had to wait.
    4. Like they waited, we must wait patiently for Jesus’ coming Kingdom on earth. They waited, we must wait. We have a promise that Jesus is coming for us as He came for the Hebrews. Right now, we are pretty comfortable in the United States, but remember this is not the Promised Land. Someday we may not be comfortable and that will remind us that this is not the world God intended, but it is coming. In other places of the world currently they are uncomfortable and persecuted for their faith. In other places they are hungry and without food and clothing. Even in the U.S. some of these things are going on. This reminds us that this is not the world God intended. Remember, don’t forget, God is coming back for us through Jesus. This is not the Promised Land.
    5. Joseph had faith that God would come back for them and so must we.
  • Even though Joseph could have had an elaborate burial in Egypt he chose the Promised Land. No matter what this world can offer us we must look to the Kingdom of Heaven.
    1. Think of all that Joseph could have had in Egypt.
    2. You’ve seen the pyramids, right?
    3. I think he could have had that type of a burial. He could have been buried with gold in some pyramid. That is not what he chose. He chose the Promised Land.
    4. We must trust in God’s promises, not this world.
  1. God is in control we can trust Him.
    1. We can trust God’s promise as Joseph did.
    2. My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing that my God can’t do. We’ll come back to that.
    3. When life is falling apart as it was for Joseph we can trust Him.
    4. When we are caring for elderly parents we can trust God.
    5. When we lay family members and friends in the grave, we can have hope in the Resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)
    6. When we are caring for sick children we can trust God and we can look to a time without sickness. (Rev. 21)
    7. When we don’t know where to turn we can turn to God in prayer. (James 5:16)
    8. When dealing with children and grandchildren who are constantly getting into trouble you can hope in Jesus who can turn lives around. (2 Cor. 5:17 and 21)
    9. When you, yourself, are having trouble with sin, having trouble with addictions you can turn to Jesus who has promised to Help. (Matt. 11:28; John 4:14; 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21; Gal. 2:20)
    10. When the world is falling apart and you are afraid to turn on the news we can look forward to the Promised Land. (Rev. 21)

Conclusion:

Man Finally Finds Meaning in his Father’s Murder

In 1986, a Christian worker named Steve Saint was traveling through the country of Mali when his car broke down. Stranded and alone, Steve tried to rent a truck, despite warnings that he wouldn’t survive in the Sahara Desert. After he failed to find a truck, in his fear and discouragement, Steve’s thoughts ran to his father, Nate Saint, a former missionary in Ecuador. When Steve was only five, natives speared to death his dad and four other missionaries. Now, thirty years later, Steve found himself questioning his father’s death. Steve reflected, “I couldn’t help but think the murders were capricious, an accident of bad timing.”

When Steve asked some locals directions to a church, a few children led him to a tiny mud- brick house with a poster on the wall showing wounded hands covering a cross. A man in flowing robes introduced himself as Nouh Af Infa Yatara. Nouh started sharing with Steve about his faith in Christ. After becoming a Christian, his family disowned him. His mother even put a sorcerer’s poison in Nouh’s food at a family feast. He ate the food but suffered no ill effects.

When Steve asked Nouh why he was willing to pay such a steep price for following Christ, he simply said, “I know God loves me and I’ll live with him forever.” But Steve pressed, “Where did your courage come from?” Nouh explained that when he was young, a missionary gave him books about Christians who had suffered for their faith. Then he added, “My favorite was about five young men who risked their lives to take God’s good news to people in the jungles of Ecuador. The book said they let themselves be speared to death, even though they had guns and could have killed their attackers!”

Utterly shocked, Steve said, “One of those men was my father.” Now Nouh felt stunned. “Your father?” he exclaimed. Then Nouh told Steve that God had used the death of those five brave missionaries to help him, a young Muslim who had become a Christian, hold on to his faith.

Possible Preaching Angle: Steve realized that if God could plan the death of his own Son, he could also plan and use the death of Steve’s dad, Nate Saint, to accomplish his sovereign purpose—including reaching one young Muslim for Christ and orchestrating this God-ordained meeting of two men at the ends of the earth.

Adapted from Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good (Multnomah, 2009), pp 400-401

Joseph faced hard times, but God was in control. We may face hard times but God is in control. God has a future plan. Trust Him as Joseph did. Trust His promises.

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

The mountains are His, the rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do, hey, hey

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

The mountains are His, the rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

The mountains are His, the rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

There’s nothing my God cannot do
There’s nothing, nothing, nothing He can’t do
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/veggie-tales-veggie-tunes/my-god-is-so-big-lyrics/#64CqmcpSPCjqLYt1.99

Repeat after me: God is in control, God is in control.

Ps 89:13

Your arm is endued with power;

your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

(from New International Version)

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

Notes:

Hebrews 11:22:

Now, turn to Genesis 50:22-26:

My theme and application is that we can learn trusting God through Joseph.

What can we learn from Joseph’s faith and blessings?

  1. God has visited us as Joseph said He would. (verse 24)
    1. Remember: Immanuel: God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
  2. We have been redeemed; we are given the promise of the Promised Land, though we are not there yet. In Joseph’s context, the people were not yet redeemed out of slavery and given the Promised Land, yet Joseph prophesied this. (verse 24)
  • Even though Joseph could have had an elaborate burial in Egypt he chose the Promised Land. No matter what God can offer us in this world we must look to the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • God is in control we can trust Him.
    1. We can trust God’s promise as Joseph did.
    2. My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing that my God can’t do. We’ll come back to that.
    3. When life is falling apart as it was for Joseph we can trust Him.
    4. When we are caring for elderly parents we can trust God.
    5. When we lay family members and friends in the grave, we can have hope in the Resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)
    6. When we are caring for sick children we can trust God and we can look to a time without sickness. (Rev. 21)
    7. When we don’t know where to turn we can turn to God in prayer. (James 5:16)
    8. When dealing with children and grandchildren who are constantly getting into trouble you can hope in Jesus who can turn lives around. (2 Cor. 5:17 and 21)
    9. When you, yourself, are having trouble with sin, having trouble with addictions you can turn to Jesus whose promised to Help. (Matt. 11:28; John 4:14; 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21; Gal. 2:20)
    10. When the world is falling apart and you are afraid to turn on the news we can look forward to the Promised Land. (Rev. 21)

Joseph faced hard times, but God was in control. We may face hard times but God is in control. God has a future plan. Trust Him as Joseph did. Trust His promises.

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
Repeat after me: God is in control, God is in control.

Ps 89:13

Your arm is endued with power;

your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

(from New International Version)

By Faith, Jacob trusted God’s promises

Introduction:

The movie Love’s Unfolding Dream is based upon a series of books by Janet Oke. In this scene Belinda (Scout Taylor-Compton), an aspiring doctor in the little Western town of Anderson’s Corner, is caring for Ms. Stanfordsmythe, a wealthy stroke victim from Boston, Massachusetts. Belinda is unaware that Ms. Stanfordsmythe lost both of her children to death, and Ms. Standfordsmythe is unaware that Belinda lost her mother and father when she was just nine years old. The conversation that ensues shows the stark difference between Belinda’s resilient faith and Ms. Stanfordsmythe’s cynical doubt.

“How ya’ doing today, Ms. Stanfordsmythe?” Belinda asks.

“How do you think I’m feeling—being forced to endure these primitive conditions?” she replies.

“You know, we’re not all uncivilized here,” says Belinda.

“Really? Did I somehow miss seeing the opera house or a good library or even a hat shop with the latest from Europe? No? I thought not!”

“Anderson Corner has other things to offer,” replies Belinda.

“Such as?”

“Good people, and a church that welcomes everybody—including strangers. We take care of each other in difficult times,” says Belinda.

“You’ve never even been outside this small town, have you?” asks Ms. Stanfordsmythe.

“Actually, I was born in New York,” replies Belinda. “I didn’t come here till I was 14. So I do know a few things about the world outside. But I much prefer Anderson Corner.”

“You actually like it here!”

“Compared to New York, it’s heaven on earth!” says Belinda. “I’m gonna miss it terribly when I leave to study to be a doctor.”

“Well, there’s a surprising ambition for a farm girl,” says Ms. Stanfordsmythe.

“I believe it’s what God called me to do,” says Belinda.

“God? Ha! Don’t put your trust in God, young woman. He is unconcerned with your ambitions!”

“You don’t mean that,” Belinda insists.

“The only thing you have to rely on in this world is yourself!” Ms. Stanfordsmythe insists.

“It must be awful lonely believing in nothing but myself,” Belinda replies.

“When you’ve had a little experience with the harsh realities of life, you’ll abandon that naive faith!” Ms. Stanfordsmythe fires back.

“I’ve had a great deal experience of harsh reality. Without my faith, I expect I’d be much like you.”

Ms. Stanfordsmythe looks puzzled: “How’s that?”

“Very unhappy,” Belinda replies.

Elapsed time: DVD, scene 6; 00:26:08–00:27:46

Rated PG

Loves Unfolding Dream (Twentieth Century Fox, 2008), directed by Michael Landon Jr; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

So, how does your faith make you feel? Does trusting in God make you happy? Does God make you happy? Without your faith would you be unhappy? Now, I really do not believe that all Christians are happy and joyful all the time. But I like to believe that being reminded of God’s promises will encourage and equip us for the good times and the bad. I want to believe that coming back to God’s promises, will gives us renewed hope.

Today, I want to get into a passage about that will once again take us back to Genesis. We will look at Jacob and how he blessed his son and two of his grandsons. In this blessing he was prophetic, but in this blessing he was trusting in God’s promises.

My theme and application:

Jacob blesses both of Joseph’s sons relying on the promises of God. We also can have faith, relying on God’s promises.

Recall that we introduced Jacob last Sunday. Then he was not yet married. He was a conniving man and he stole his brother’s birthright. But recall that this showed God’s sovereignty. God was in charge in everything.  God’s will came to pass.

Read with me Hebrews 11:21:

Heb 11:21

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Now, years later Jacob is 147 years old and has had a large family. He has 13 children, 12 of them sons.

I heard about a pastor who said:

On one of my pastoral visits, I had just stepped inside a hospital elevator and punched the button for the fifth floor when a young pregnant woman slipped in beside me.

Noticing she glanced at the button panel, but didn’t press a button for another floor, I asked, “Number five?”

“Heavens no!” she gasped. “It’s only my first!”

Preston A. Taylor, Hondo, Texas. Christian Reader, “Lite Fare.”

 

Well, her first but Joseph had 13 children. A lot has happened in the last few years to Jacob. Now, here he is and he is grateful.

  1. God made a promise to Abraham and that promise was still being fulfilled. The promise is called the Abrahamic covenant and that was first in Genesis 12:1-3, let’s turn there.
    1. Gen 12:1-3: The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
    2. Now, turn over to Genesis 13:14-18: The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
    3. Now, this covenant is again repeated in Genesis 15: 18-21: On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates–the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
    4. Once again, now turn over to Genesis 17:6: I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
    5. These are the promises of God to Abraham and his descendants, understand that Christians are grafted into these promises. (Romans 11:17-24; Galatians 3:15-29 (especially 29); 4:1-6; 21-31 (especially 28))
    6. Jacob knew these promises and God, who is sovereign and in control, was going to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant even through conniving, Jacob. God fulfills his promises even through you and me.
    7. So, we come to Genesis 48 and Jacob is about to die and he is going to bless his children and grandchildren.
  2. Let’s look at the blessing:
    1. Turn to Genesis 48:15-16: Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm –may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.”
    2. This blessing predicts the future similarly to the blessing that Isaac gave upon Jacob and Esau in Genesis 27.
    3. How can anyone predict the future?
    4. In 1995, an American scientist named Clifford Stoll boldly predicted that the Internet would be just another passing fad. He wrote an article forNewsweek titled “The Internet? Bah!” Here’s what Stoll said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio:
    5. I expect the value of the Internet for communications in general isn’t very high. I don’t think it will ever replace face to face meetings and real rallies—things that get commitment and involvement from people. Rather, it induces a very shallow … involvement and as such, I think it’s grossly over-promoted and there’s a great deal of hyperbole surrounding it.
    6. I think it’s grossly oversold and within two or three years people will shrug and say, ‘”Uh yep, it was a fad of the early 90’s and now, oh yeah, it still exists but hey, I’ve got a life to lead and work to do. I don’t have time to waste online.” Or, “I’ll collect my email, I’ll read it, why should I bother prowling around the Worldwide Web …” simply because there’s so little of value there.
    7. Ten years later, in a 2006 TED talk, Stoll reflected on his failed predictions and said, “If you really want to know about the future, don’t ask a technologist, a scientist, a physicist. No! Don’t ask somebody who’s writing code. No, if you want to know what society’s going to be like in 20 years, ask a kindergarten teacher.”[1]
    8. I like the last line, ask a kindergarten teacher!
    9. Or, God. God knows the future and God had already given future promises to Jacob. Jacob, personally heard God’s promise. Turn over to Genesis 28:13: here above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
    10. Jacob knew God’s promise and he clung to God’s promise as he blessed. Next he blessed two of his grandsons. He blessed the younger one first.
    11. Turn back to Genesis 48:17-22: When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said,
    12. “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.'” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you, as one who is over your brothers, I give the ridge of land I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”
    13. Jacob knew God’s promises and blessed accordingly. This was faith, for this was trusting in God.
  • Okay, now is for us to also trust in the promises of God. Have faith like Jacob.
    1. God has promises found in Scripture and we must trust in these promises.
      1. We must trust as the Lord being our Light and our Salvation, whom shall we fear. (Psalm 27:1)
      2. We must trust that we can look our eyes unto the hills our help comes from the Lord. (Psalm 121)
      3. We must trust the Lord is our Shepherd. (Psalm 23)
      4. We must trust Phil. 4:4-13: We are to pray with prayer and petition with thanksgiving and then there is peace that passes understanding. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
      5. We must trust James 4:7 that when we submit to God, we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.
      6. We must take security and trust in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
      7. We must cling to the promise of Rev. 21 and the new Jerusalem.
      8. We must cling to the promise that absent from the body is present with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8)
      9. As Jacob held true to the promises when giving out this prophetic blessing, so we must cling to the promises of Scripture.

Close:

Saharan Run Shows Amazing Endurance

Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab, and Kevin Lin know endurance better than most. For 111 days, they ran the equivalent of two marathons a day in order to cross the entire Sahara Desert on foot. They touched the waters at Senegal and then made their way through Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya, and Egypt to touch the waters of the Red Sea. Along the way, the trio faced blazing afternoons of over 100 degrees, jarring, freezing nights, sandstorms, tendonitis, violent sickness, and the usual aches, pains, and blisters. But the biggest challenge they faced can be summed up in one word: water. Finding it in its purest, cleanest form gets to be a bit of a chore while in the middle of nowhere!

Crossing the Saharan Desert on foot is an amazing accomplishment. But just as commendable are these marathon finishers:

  • Christians who finish their lives still growing, still serving.
    • Husbands and wives who stay faithful to each other “until death do us part.”
    • Young people who preserve their virginity until marriage, in spite of crushing peer pressure.
    • Pastors who stay passionate about ministry until their last breath.
    • Church members who weather the rougher patches and remain joyful, loving, and faithful.

Jon R. Mutchler, Ferndale, Washington; source: Anna Johnson, “3 ultra-athletes run across Sahara,” USA Today (2-20-07)

Let’s pray

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Molly Bloom, “The Internet will be a fad, claimed scientist in ’95,” MPR News (2-16-12)