All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 55/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 24

The Choice is Yours

In his farewell address to the children of Israel, Joshua reminded them of all God had done from the time of Abraham to their present possession o the land of Canaan. He reminded them of the Lord’s guidance through Moses out of Egypt, and of His faithful blessings as they conquered their enemies, and of His gracious gift of “a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant” (Joshua 24:13).

The aged leader urges faithfulness. How many times had God’s chosen people complained, grumbled, and murmured? How many times had they lamented their current situation, longing for the days of slavery in Egypt? Joshua reminds them that the false gods of Egypt did nothing for them; only the one, true God of heaven could bless them. Yet, they had the choice to make: the “little g” gods that don’t exist outside of one’s own imagination, or the God who made everything. “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

This is a choice man must continue to make today. There are many false “little g” gods in the traditional sense found in world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Then there are the false doctrines about God, found in denominationalism, that promote “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5).

Let us never forget, however, that anything we place before God becomes a god. Whether money, or sports, or education, or even family, if we do not exalt God to the proper place above everything, then we are setting ourselves up for spiritual failure.

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The things of this life are temporary; God is eternal. May we ever focus on Him. “Serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:14).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 54/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 21:43-45

The Promise Fulfilled

The book of Joshua deals with the Israelites’ many conquests as they took possession of the land promised long ago by God. “As the Lord had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:15). It was an enormous task that took many years, but it was accomplished with God’s guidance. “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war” (Joshua 11:23).

After recording the divisions of the land by tribes, as well as the cities of refuge and the cities of the Levites, Joshua 21:43 affirms, “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.” No longer was it a promise in prospect; the promise had been fulfilled. Indeed, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass” (Joshua 21:45).

Why, then, was Israel taken into captivity many years later? It was no shortcoming of God! It was the failure of the people to fully execute God’s orders! The late brother James Burton Coffman wrote in his commentary on Joshua, “These verses state that God had delivered all their enemies ‘into their hands,’ and of course, He had. Nothing remained for Israel to do, but to apply themselves to the task and do it!”

God did not fail then, and He does not fail today. He has provided for man a conquest over sin. All we have to do is take advantage of it! Take action upon the belief that God sent His Son into this world to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sin!

There is more to Christianity than reciting a so-called “sinner’s prayer” that is nowhere found in the Bible. We must “obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). How do we do that? By repenting of our sins and reenacting the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord in baptism (Romans 6:3-6), an action which washes away the guilt of past sin (Acts 22:16). Then, as a new creature, we “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7), faithfully obeying all that He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). God will fulfill His promise to save you, contingent upon your obedience.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 53/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 7

Get Sin Out of Your Life

The children of Israel defeated many enemies that would have been too strong without God’s divine assistance. When they approached Ai, the Israelite spies told Joshua that a smaller group of men could take the land because “the people of Ai are few” (Joshua 7:3); there was no need to tire the whole company in the battle. Joshua followed their advice and sent only three thousand men to fight. They had full confidence that they would win the battle without trouble.

Thirty-six Israelite soldiers perished while retreating from Ai. They were unable to triumph in what should have been one of their easiest battles yet. What was the problem? Why didn’t God help them? That was Joshua’s question to the Lord, with torn clothes and dust on his head, his face to the earth.

God answered, “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff” (Joshua 7:10-11).

When we allow sin in our lives, it hinders us spiritually. When we are too close to others who are sinning grievously, it hinders us spiritually. The closer we are to sin, the further we are from God—and the further God is from us.

Joshua and the children of Israel had to remove the sin from the camp; Achan, the one who had taken the garment, gold, and silver, was punished for his sin and removed from the Israelites. In so doing, Israel was again blessed by God, and they were allowed to defeat Ai.

What battles are you losing because of your sin, or the sin of others close to you? You may not be guilty of another’s sin, but you can still suffer consequences through your association with them. Paul warned the Corinthians, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). He further writes, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). He then makes application: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). In other words, get sin out of your life!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 52/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 6

Keeping God’s Word (And Our Own!)

God was precise in His instructions for taking Jericho: take the ark of the Lord and march around the city once for six days with the priests blowing their trumpets, and after you march around it once, return to camp. Then march seven times on the seventh day, and when the priests finish blowing their trumpets on that seventh day, shout! With that shout, God said that “the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him” (Joshua 6:5).

Can you imagine what the people of Jericho must have thought? The Israelites march around once, then walk away. The second day the same thing happens. Every day for six days straight, they walk away after marching around the city once. What are they doing?

Then, on the seventh day, they don’t stop after one lap. They don’t stop the second time around. They keep marching. Three times. Four. Jericho must have wondered why they were not attacking. Five, six, seven. And now they’re shouting after that seventh trip. Jericho’s watchmen, standing on top of the wall, feel the stones shift under their feet. The wall is coming down. All around the city, the wall is crumbling, falling apart. Nothing is left standing, except for one section.

Inside that one section is the house of the harlot, Rahab. The spies had promised to spare her and her family if they remained in their house. The Israelites had obeyed God, the harlot had followed the spies’ instructions, and all of Jericho was destroyed except for her family.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Joshua had not told Israel to obey God’s orders? What would have happened if they refused to march? If they questioned His wisdom? If they said, “We don’t see the point”? Those stones would not have shifted. The wall would have stood still. Israel would not have defeated Jericho.

Faithful obedience is required of all who desire to follow God. Keeping His Word, and keeping our own word, is required! The children of Israel followed His instructions, and they kept the promise they had made to Rahab.

Are you keeping God’s Word? Are you keeping your own?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 51/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 5:13-15

“Are You For Us Or For Our Adversaries?”

It was a fair question, wasn’t it? You are the leader of the people ready to fight and take the land away from Jericho, and you see “a Man…with His sword drawn in His hand” (Joshua 5:13). He appears powerful, but not menacing. Would you not ask Him the same question? “Whose side are you on? Are you for us or for them?”

The answer is telling. “No.” This Man was on no one’s side. What mattered was whose side Joshua and the children of Israel chose. “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come” (Joshua 5:14).

Eliza E. Hewitt and William J. Kirkpatrick wrote a song in the late nineteenth century, “Who Will Follow Jesus?” That’s the proper way to look at it. It is not a matter of, “I want to do this, and I hope Jesus goes with me.” We should instead say, “I want to know what Jesus wants me to do, and I will follow Him!” As the songwriters asked in their song, “Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply, ‘I am on the Lord’s side; Master, here am I’?”

The Man that stood opposite Joshua before Israel took Jordan was none other than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ Himself. “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

Notice Joshua’s immediate response to this declaration: “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’” (Joshua 5:14). Is this our response to the Lord’s presence? When we open His Word to study, do we approach it with this attitude? Or do we simply look for justification for our actions, not seeking to follow Jesus but hoping that He will follow us?

We must approach God’s inspired Word with reverence. It is the “Holy” Bible. The “Holy” Scriptures. “Holy” Writ. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Do not treat His Word as a snack that you occasionally nibble on during the week as you wait for Sunday. Sit down and feast on the spiritual diet every day, asking as you read, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Stephen: Uncompromising Devotion (Acts 6-7)

Stephen Uncompromising Devotion Acts 6 Acts 7

Acts 6-7

I. Full of faith

    A. A principal characteristic (Acts 6:5, 8)
    B. Faith is the foundation (2 Peter 1:5-8; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36-37)

II. Full of power

    A. “Great wonders and signs” (Acts 6:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; Mark 16:20)
    B. Wouldn’t it be easier to evangelize today with miracles? (John 20:30; Acts 6:9, 11-13; 7:54, 59-60; Luke 16:19-31)

III. Full of Scripture

    A. He knew it! (Acts 7)
    B. We can know it too! (Ephesians 5:17-21; Colossians 3:16)

IV. Full of light

    A. They could not deny who Stephen stood with (Acts 6:15)
    B. True Christians cannot help but shine the light of Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:15)

V. Full of wisdom

    A. Insurmountable wisdom (Acts 6:3, 10; 7:57)
    B. Through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 4:3-4; 3:15)

VI. Full of courage

    A. Stood up to the opponents of truth (Acts 7:51-56)
    B. We must stand for truth regardless of consequences (Galatians 4:16; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 4:15)

VII. Full of love

    A. “Do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:57-60)
    B. The attitude of Jesus (Luke 23:34) and Paul (Romans 9:3; 10:1)

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility sermon

I. The power to learn

    A. Learning is where faith begins (Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 6:7; Rom. 10:17)
    B. The more we want to learn, the more we can learn (Mt. 5:6; 1 Tim. 4:13)

II. The power to teach

    A. Jesus taught the apostles who taught others who taught others who taught others… (2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 5:42; 8:4; 20:20)
    B. We must be willing to guide those who want to learn (Acts 8:30-31)

III. The power to live the Christian life

    A. Walk the walk (Ephesians 4:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:11-12)
    B. In all that we do (Colossians 3:17), always abounding (1 Cor. 15:58)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 50/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 3-4

Crossing the Jordan

God often used extraordinary events to demonstrate His approval of an individual. In the case of Moses, He worked many signs in the presence of Pharaoh and later in the presence of the children of Israel. In Joshua’s case, the Lord again demonstrated that He was with Joshua as the leader of Israel. “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (Joshua 3:7). Perhaps there was some trepidation among the people after the passing of the man who led them out of Egypt; God wanted to set their minds at ease and show that He was still their protector and guide, and that He was now working through Joshua the son of Nun.

Just as the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry ground, on this occasion they passed through the Jordan in the same manner. “About forty thousand prepared for war crossed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho” (Joshua 4:13). Finally, they were preparing to fully obey the Lord and take what He had given them.

As a memorial of this event, Joshua commanded twelve men to each take a stone from the Jordan. These twelve stones were set up in Gilgal as a reminder of what God had done for them and as a teaching opportunity for future generations.

What extraordinary events has God done to show that He is with you? Did you read your Bible today? That book is the product of miraculous inspiration! Have you reflected recently upon Jesus’ crucifixion? That demonstrated the powerful love of God for you! How long has it been since you read about the resurrection of Jesus? That act proved His power over death!

What in your life resembles the memorial stones? Did you partake in the Lord’s Supper this past Sunday? There you have the weekly reminder of that love that drove Jesus to the cross.

How do we know that God is with us today? When we live according to the words that He revealed in the Scriptures, when we remember His Son’s death each first day of the week, and when we look forward with hopeful anticipation to the resurrection, we can know that God is with us. “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 49/260: Rahab

Read Joshua 2:1-24; 6:15-25; Hebrews 11:31

The Faith of a Harlot

There are certain occupations that carry with them a social stigma. Perhaps no career is seen in a poorer light than that of a prostitute. And yet the Scriptures show how powerful the one, true God of heaven is, saving even those that many times we would shun and from whom we would divert our eyes.

It is not Rahab’s occupation that makes her faithful, nor her lies to the men sent by the king of Jericho, but her belief that God really is God, and that He really is blessing Israel. She had no reason to believe such things except by word-of-mouth. Yet, forty years after the Red Sea crossing, the truth of God’s power persisted, so potent that even a harlot believed the fantastic stories.

When she spoke to the spies, she said, “I know that the Lord has given you the land” (Joshua 2:9). There was no doubt in this woman’s mind that Jericho was doomed. Why? Because of what God had already done for them. “For 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 the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed” (Joshua 2:10). Her entire family was convinced that Israel would overtake Jericho, as Rahab said, “And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted” (Joshua 2:11). The power of the Lord was real and the destruction of Jericho was inevitable.

However, Rahab did not resign herself to her own destruction. She begged for mercy from the spies, helping them and hiding them. Could they be trusted? If they lied to her, she would be destroyed. Yet, if she had not helped them, she knew that she would be destroyed when Israel came to take the land. She had nothing to lose.

In her faith, Rahab overcame sin. There is no record of her continuing her former occupation after her salvation. In fact, she became the great-great-grandmother of the future king of Israel, David, and a part of the lineage of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. God doesn’t hold our past against us when we repent; instead, despite our past, He uses us to accomplish His will.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 48/260: Joshua

Read Joshua 1

Be Strong and of Good Courage

Three times in the first chapter of the book of Joshua, the Lord told Joshua to “be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9). Moses, the brave leader of the Israelites had just died, and now this man Joshua, who had helped Moses and trusted in the Lord, was chosen to lead God’s people.

Can you imagine yourself in such a situation? Taking the place of the man who has led the nation for forty years, who stood up to Pharaoh, who patiently guided the stiffnecked people through the wilderness. Are you ready for such a challenge?

Many great men and women of God, whose faith and whose courage were above average, have passed on. Who will fill their shoes and keep preaching the gospel and encouraging the church as faithfully as they did?

We must encourage our young people now to think about their future in the church. We need boys who want to grow up to be elders, deacons, preachers, and Bible class teachers. We need girls who want to marry those future leaders and who want to raise their children in the Lord and who wants to teach other women and children how to follow Jesus.

Parents and grandparents have such a tremendous influence on young minds. We must be intentional about this! Just as the young evangelist developed a “genuine faith” by watching and emulating his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5), we must be setting a proper example for the young people around us to follow. And as we set that example, remember the words God had for Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage!”

Joshua needed that encouragement, but notice that he received it from more than just God. The children of Israel encouraged their new leader as well, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go….Only be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:16, 18).

When is the last time you encouraged the elders where you serve? Or the deacons who are working hard to see that their areas of work are effective? Or the preacher who has faithfully delivered the gospel message week in and week out? Make it a point this week to tell them, “Be strong and of good courage!”