The wonderful story of the Israelites entering the Promised Land has always been understood by Christians as a picture of Victorious Christian living. Last week we looked at the first part of Joshua 1 which gave us three secrets of Christian Victory.
1st secret of Christian Victory – God’s presence: God is with you!
Joshua 1:5 As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
We discovered that God is always with us, everywhere. And for Christians, God is with us in a very special way. God is in us! “Christ in you – the Hope of glory.” Christ lives in us! God’s gift of the Holy Spirit lives in us. Our God is with us wherever we go, whatever we are doing, whatever challenges or worries or fears we may experience. God never leaves us or forsakes us.
And we remembered that the way to recognise that God is with us everywhere is to pray. To acknowledge God’s presence by praying to Him, wherever we are, whatever is happening around us. By fixing our mind on God all the time. As the 17th Century monk Brother Lawrence put it, to practice the presence of God. Praying without ceasing.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
2nd secret of Christian victory – God’s Word
Joshua 1:7 Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
We need to study the Bible to discover what it teaches us. But more than that, we also need to learn to meditate on the Bible, to learn to hear God speaking to us through it, so that God’s word gets through deeper than our minds and into our hearts.
3rd secret of Christian victory – Obedience.
We begin by making a conscious effort to obey everything He has revealed to us in His Word the Bible.
Joshua 1:7 Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.
8 … meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
But then we also need to find out from God what He wants us to do, day by day, minute by minute. Just as God had specific plans and instructions for the Israelites for them to take possession of the Promised Land, so God has plans for each of our lives and we need to be obedient to His plans. We need to find out what God wants us to be doing, as individuals and also as a church, and then we need to obey.
Three secrets of Christian Victory. Recognising God’s presence by praying – practising the presence of God. Studying God’s Word and meditating on it. And obeying what God commands us. If you want to read the whole sermon from last week it is online on the blog. And then God’s words of encouragement to Joshua are His words to us also.
6 “Be strong and courageous, 7 Be strong and very courageous. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
But then there is a fourth vitally important secret to Christian Victory in Joshua chapter 1. Did you spot it?
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, fully armed, must cross over ahead of your brothers. You are to help your brothers 15 until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land that the LORD your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
The fourth secret of Christian Victory. So simple. So important. So easy to forget. So obvious in verse 14. You are to help your brothers.
For two and half tribes, their wives and children and livestock were allowed to stay in that portion of the Promised Land to the East of the Jordan which God had allocated to them. But their fighting men were obliged to play their part in taking possession of the rest of the Land for the whole nation. A simple principle of Christian Victory which applies to all Christians everywhere. You are to help your brothers.
In other words, we aren’t in it alone! None of us has to fight the battle of the Christian life by ourselves. God calls us to help each other. You are to help your brothers. We win the victory and possess the land by helping each other! Christians can help each other in so many different ways.
HELPING EACH OTHER IN OUR CHRISTIAN WALK
In understanding the Bible
In meditating on the Bible
In living obedient lives
You are to help your brothers.
HELPING EACH OTHER IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES
There are many ways in which Christians can support and encourage each other in their everyday lives.
In our work
In our witness
In our Christian service
In the difficult times
You are to help your brothers.
HELPING BY PLAYING YOUR PART IN CHURCH ACTIVITIES
At a meeting of ministers last week I heard about another church in Chelmsford which is introducing a new principle. In that church every member of the church and regular congregation will be expected to have at least one responsibility in the life of the church, but no more than three!
• Helping with the Crèche
• Helping with Sunday Club 5-11s
• Helping with Sunday Club 11-16s
• Helping with Impact Youth Group
• Helping operate the sound system
• Helping operate the projector
• Helping welcome people on Sundays
• Helping with the flowers
• Helping with cleaning the premises
• Helping with maintaining the premises
You are to help your brothers.
After years of battles the Israelites finally took possession of the whole of the Promised Land. And so in Joshua 22 we read this. Then Joshua summoned the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh 2 and said to them, “You have done all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded. 3 For a long time now—to this very day—you have not deserted your brothers but have carried out the mission the LORD your God gave you. 4 Now that the LORD your God has given your brothers rest as he promised, return to your homes in the land that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side of the Jordan.
All the time until the battles were finished and victory was completely won, the fighting men of the two and a half tribes were faithful and obedient to the command: “You are to help your brothers.”
SPECIFIC STEPS WHICH MAY BE RIGHT FOR YOU IN THIS NEW YEAR
Committing yourself to encouraging and supporting one or two particular friends who God brings to your mind and lays on your heart.
Committing yourself to some new area of Christian service in the church.
Attending the church prayer meetings regularly
Starting by coming to the Morning of Prayer 9 am to 12 noon NEXT Saturday 2nd
Joining a Home Group – meeting for Bible Study, prayer and fellowship on Tuesday morning, Tuesday evening and Friday evenings.
Hebrews 1-:24 says this. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Beginning to meeting regularly with another Christian “one-to-one”
There are so many good reasons for meeting with another Christian one to one.
Jesus tells us to pray together.
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:19-20)
The second promise Jesus makes here is that He will be present when believers meet together in some special way in which He is not present with them when they are apart. And this is linked to the first promise which is that God the Father will answer the prayers of believers who come together in agreement about what they are praying for, more than if they had prayed alone and separately. If it was not already abundantly clear from other parts of Scripture, Jesus here is specifically promising to bless Christians who meet together and pray together. And that doesn’t have to be at a church service or a prayer meeting or a Home Group. The minimum number meeting together to claim these promises is precisely two. Praying together is always good. Intercessions carry more power because they are united. Praying for each other is good. Praying through each other’s decisions and problems is good. And having somebody else committed to praying for your personal spiritual growth is guaranteed to be good – because God answers prayer.
Dialogue teaches the parts monologue can’t teach
We learn all kinds of things much better by talking about them and by doing them with other people than just by reading or listening to sermons. Talking things through with another person brings blessings for you and blessings for the other person –so double the blessings! And the wonderful thing about meeting regularly is that in times of trial the relationship of sustaining friends already exists.
Opening up to each other is opening up to God
If we really mean business with God we need to open up every part of our lives to Him. And an important way of doing this is to open up our lives to other people. And being accountable to each other is a good thing. Accountability means we can‘t cheat ourselves, or God.
There are many things “better caught than taught.”
In the Christian life there are individuals who inspire and encourage us by their passion in prayer, their boldness in evangelism, their commitment to holiness and their complete devotion to God. From their examples we learn skills, attitudes and character. We learn hospitality, patterns of prayer and devotional reading. We learn how to cope with life. We seek to imitate their work/life/church balance. We are fired by their wisdom, zeal and love. They are our role models. We catch their faith.
Meeting together involves seeing Christ in each other.
And God gives us other Christians so we can practise His kind of love. Learning to be Jesus to other people. A very good way to learn to love your enemies is to practise by loving your friends! For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)
There are so many ways in which we can help our brother, and be helped ourselves, by meeting regularly with another Christian! Perhaps the best next step for a number of folk here will be to begin to meet one-to-one.
The “Fan The Flame” guided discipleship course
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. (Romans 12:11 The Message)
Fan the Flame is a challenging and demanding course for mature Christians who are serious about wanting to move on with God. For five weeks you will need to set aside periods of at 20-30 minutes for reflection and prayer on five days each week. You will also have a weekly meeting with your Guide for an hour, or longer if you choose. Each week you will think and pray about a different theme in Christian discipleship. Each week has five separate studies on the theme, each with a Bible passage and a page or two of notes to read and think about. Each study also has two or three questions for prayer and reflection. The week ends with a One-to-One meeting with your Guide to discuss and pray through your answers to the questions. The themes are:
1) Knowing God better
2) Becoming like Jesus
3) Living in Christ’s body
4) Becoming a servant
5) Be filled with the Spirit
Prayer meetings. Home Groups. Meeting one to one with another Christian, or following the Fan the Flame course. There are so many ways we can help each other just by meeting together regularly! But for some folk here there may be other steps which we need to take in our walk with God which we can only take as individuals.
Being baptised as a believer
Becoming a member of the church
The “Meet Jesus” Course inquiring about the Christian faith. Six weeks in a small group watching excerpts from the video Jesus of Nazareth, with Robert Powell as Jesus, and talking about what we have watched.
Whether it is in the area of your personal walk with God, or serving in the church, or helping your brothers and sisters, God has in mind the response he invites us to make this morning.
When Joshua called on the two and a half tribes, this was their response.
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses.
May God help each one of us to be bold and be strong and to trust and obey.