Step Out!!!

 Joshua 1:3-6 “3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV).

Joshua has willingly stepped up and officially takes on the leadership role of the nation of Israel. It is important to notice that Joshua took on his new role before he was given the official brevet command and commission over Israel. While training under Moses, Joshua was fulfilling the role of a spiritual advisor to Moses 1. But that is not the only position he was filling at that time, Joshua was being groomed as a high level military leader and warrior 2.

We see in these verses that God assigns Joshua three important tasks: lead Israel into the promise land, conquer and defeat the enemy, and control the distribution of the claimed inheritance.

Each of these three tasks was followed by three special promises, one for each of the tasks. The first promise was the ability to cross the river and reach the new territory. The second promise was the ability to conquer the enemy. And the third promise was to divide the newly gained inheritance to each tribe.

I want to focus on the final verse of today’s lesson. Verse 6 “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (KJV). I’m afraid that we often fail to step out in faith because we desire to know the details before we make any moves. Meaning, we want the complete detailed plans and instructions first, and to put it plainly, we want all the answers to any “what if…” questions. But that is not how faith works; His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not ours 3.

This is a lesson that may be difficult to learn. But the message for us today is clear; God has given us, all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus 4. In order to obtain those spiritual blessings we must step up in our faith, the process begins when we are moved internally by the Touch of our Master. And this is exactly what Joshua did, and as I explained in my previous post “Step Up”, Joshua was stepping up years prior to this new leadership role. He was prepared to answer the call at a moments notice.

Stepping up in our faith is the beginning phase, being ready and prepared for whatever the lord has planned for us. The next step is for us to step out in faith. Now we have to put on our shoes and start walking. We may not know where, how far, or how long our walk will be, but stepping out in faith is the only way we can claim them. The Lord has set before us a series of doors and there will be one door that He will open when the time is right.

I picture a long walking trail that winds through the mountains of life. I can see thousands of doors and each one is locked shut. Personally I have been walking the “Faith Path” since March, praying every day for the Lord to open a door for me. During my walk I have gone through many frustrating days; as much as I know that the Lord will open that door when he is ready, there will be days when I get tired from walking, days when my shoes become worn out, my feet become blistered, but I continued walking. The Lord opened that door last month and the blessings on the other side were more than I could have imagined. Wiersbe (2010) said it best “He has set before His church an open door that nobody can close 6” and we as Christians must walk the path until we reach that unlocked open door. Then we need to walk through the open door by faith in order to claim the blessings. Just like Joshua did when he took the church on a “Faith Path” journey through the river and defeated the enemy, so they could claim the new territory.

I pray we will all move forward in our walk with the Lord, maturing as believers and being faithful servants so we can move into new territory and claim what He has promised for us. The Lord’s will is for us to continue growing and stepping out in faith 7. If we are not growing and moving forward, then we are moving backwards…

Isaiah 43:18-19 “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

1 Exodus 24:13 “And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God” (KJV).

2 Exodus 17:10) “So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill” (KJV)

3 Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (KJV).

4 Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (KJV).

5 Revelation 3:8 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (KJV).

6 Wiersbe, W. (2010). Be strong putting God’s power to work in your life: OT commentary, Joshua (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

7 Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (KJV).

Graphic Retrieved from: http://naomidemmon.theworldrace.org/blogphotos/theworldrace/naomidemmon/trust
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Her Only Christmas Present

Luke 2:36-38 “36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (KJV).

Luke writes and describes an amazing woman named Anna in 3 little verses. But Luke’s detailed method of writing allows us to learn so much about her. Yesterday I discussed the remarkable faith of the man Simeon and today we will look at Anna’s only Christmas present.

From the text we can deduce a few outstanding qualities of this woman. First, she is described as a prophetess. A prophetess is defined as a female who possesses the ability to see and describe future spiritual events, and this is done by an inspired woman (Strong, 1984). “As a prophetess, Anna receives insight into things that normally remain hidden to ordinary people; she recognizes who this child is and tells of his significance to selected people in Jerusalem” (Branch, 2013). Her actions affirm Amos 3:7: “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets.”

She was a very spiritual woman who had a great family origin, “daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asser”. “But she had much more than age and ancestry; she had a deep faith and a resilient piety: she did not depart from the temple, worshipping, fasting and praying night and day” (Arias, 1984).

She would have been married at the age of 14 or 15; which lasted only 7 years before the passing of her husband. From the text we can place her at the age of at least 85; some commentaries place her age at 114-115 years old. The point to focus on is her long dedicated life and service to the temple.

She fasted and prayed regularly and this would indicate the she was probably thin. Her ability to move about the temple in order to minister to others shows us that she was able to move around and her vision was still acceptable (v.38). This is an amazing ability for a woman her age. After the death of her husband, Anna devoted her entire life to working night and day in the temple.

Notice in the latter part of verse 38 “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem”. She was still excited to be a witness of the truth and her long years of dedicated service at the temple was a testimony of her faith. After spending 80 plus years serving in the temple, Anna was still on fire for the Lord. God truly blessed her for her dedicated service by providing her with the one greatest Christmas gift she could have asked for…

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

References

Arias, M. B. (1984). Simeon and Anna sodalities : a challenge to churches in transition. Missiology, 12(1), 97-101.

Branch, R. G. (2013). Anna in the Bible: Luke reveals the prophetess as a Biblical model for aging. Bible History Daily, Bible Archaeology. Retrieved from http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible

Strong, J., & Strong, J. (1984). The New Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible: With main concordance, appendix to the main concordance, key verse comparison chart, dictionary of the Hebrew Bible, dictionary of the Greek Testament. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Finding Balance

 1 Timothy 6:1-11 “1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (KJV).

Paul is speaking to the young Timothy, reminding him of the importance of maintaining a proper Christian perspective. As a Christian, living in a world with those who are opposed to our beliefs, it may become difficult to find the right balance. We are to live according to His word, follow His instructions, and defend His truth. Paul also reminds Timothy that it is important to remain respectful to others. The picture given is that of a slave working for his master.

In today’s workplace environment, there are Christians who struggle with maintaining a balanced life of faith. The boss or supervisor may not be a Christian; in fact they may dislike everything Christianity stands for. This may cause a great deal of stress in the life of a Christian. Paul reminds us that we need to be respectful toward those we work for and with, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.

How do we balance our faith? The word “Balance” may be a poor word choice for this application. A Christian does not have to balance their faith in the workplace. It may seem impossible to live your faith in an office filled with people who want nothing to do with Christ. Everything you are trying to live for and by seems foolish to others. How we live our faith at home or at church seems impossible to do at work. But this is exactly what Paul is addressing. We may not be able to openly bring the gospel message into the workplace, but we are told to continue living the gospel through our actions, deeds, and words.

Paul explains in the latter of verse 1, “…worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed”. We should not be focused on “how we are being treated as a Christian in the workplace”. The question should be, “how am I treating others, including my supervisor or boss”. Paul gives us a great reminder to “Lift Up” and not to “Put Down” others. That includes putting ourselves down because of the way we are treated.

Paul continues in the remaining verses, describing what happens when we focus on our own self-pity. We become filled with pride, envy, and strife. The “woe is me” syndrome is the opposite of how we should be as Christians. Self-pity is defined as the “psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have the confidence nor competence to cope with it”. 1

Our Lord was not treated kindly, but yet he walked this earth teaching us to love others, through our actions, words, and deeds. Paul reminds us to continue in our faith, walking, talking, acting, and living with a greater goal in mind. We are to respect our supervisors and co-workers; we do it because He did it for us on the Cross. When we respect others, work hard, and do the best we can do, we are putting the Lord first in our lives. Showing others what and who Christ is. There are many ways to share Christ, how we act is the outward display of what the Lord has done for us on the inside.

 Maybe the word “balance” is the right application here. The Christian balances what the Lord has placed on the heart (inside), in order to be able to share with others (outside). If the Christian has too much weight on the inside (heart), then it becomes difficult to shift the weight to the outside (others) and vice versa.

Think of it like this…A man who walks a tightrope has to shift his weight back and forth; otherwise he ends up leaning too far to one side and falls off. His balance must remain centered on the rope. He may use his arms or a long pole to help keep his balance, but no matter what, his focus must remain on the center of the rope.

Walking the rope is how a Christian should walk, straight and centered on truth. If we lean too far in either direction we fall off the path of righteousness. The longer we walk the rope, the more people will see our accomplishments, but if we don’t walk the rope, then nobody will be able to see how wonderful it is to live for Christ. In the workplace, we don’t have to stand around saying “look at me, I’m walking a tightrope”. All we need to do is stay focused and centered on the rope. The further we get, the bigger the crowd. It won’t take long until people will be curious or inspired and want to try walking the tightrope. The applications are endless.

Proverbs 12:28 “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is not death” (KJV).

Matthew 7:13-14 “13 Enter ye in the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (KJV).

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher

Reference

1 Self-pity Wikipedia definition. Retrieved 12/16/2014 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-pity

Character Traits

Psalm 1:1 “1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (KJV).

The psalmist begins with a powerful announcement and calls for our immediate attention. The verse describes the walk and character of a godly man. Character is defined as our moral, ethical, and mental qualities. Character is unique and specific to every individual. As we walk through life, we are taught different character traits, some good and some bad. We have the ability to choose which character traits to accept, reject, or influence our own personal character.

Be careful when given advice. Be careful of the people you hang out with. Be on guard about the character traits of others. The negative thoughts and actions of others can be infectious. You may not know that you “caught” the trait.

Here is an illustration I used in my Sunday school class. Take a church and divide it into two sections. Each section or side of the church has 50 people. They are seated in the pews, evenly filling the rows from front to back. On one side you quietly whisper the good news that a friend of yours at work got saved. On the other side, you quietly whisper that you saw a deacon’s wife with another man walking into a hotel together. Do you think the positive news of salvation or the negative juicy gossip will travel throughout the church?

The negative character trait of one person will quickly infect others. Before you know it, good people will allow that negative trait to become part of their own.

In Christ,

The Silent Preacher