THE WORD OF GOD IS CREATOR, LIFE, AND LIGHT TO US

John 1:1-5

What does "Logos" mean?  The very mind of, the intentions of God toward you; the very will of God.  What does God want us to do in response to what He is saying; and the very love of God.  Think about that.  The mind, intentions will and love of God.  Who is that expressed in?  The person of Jesus.  So the Word became flesh.

The Word of God is creator, life, and light to us.  There was something dwelling in the beginning.  Before there was nothing, there was God.  What makes it diffferent is that John spoke about a specific person who was God.  So, the questions of life are imbedded in the first five verses.  

1.  How did I get here?  God had an eternal plan by the Trinity.  You are the result, not of evolution, but special creation.

2.  Why am I here?  To hear and understand God's nature,  person, and being in the face of Jesus Christ.  Also hear and understand God's Will toward me.

3.  What is the meaning or purpose of my life?  To come to know God personally; to receive eternal life (here and forever)

4.  What will happen or where will I go when this earthly life ends?   Heaven is in each others' presence with God, incarnate.

This is a philosophy of our entire religion, as set down in all 18 verses of chapter 1.  The first five are an outline within an outline. In the beginning, the Word (Logos) already existed.  The Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.  Through the Logos God made all things.  The Logos was the source of life, and the life brought light to people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

The main theme of John's prologue is this.  God the Father desired to clearly communicate (speak living words to).  There is a Hebrew word, rheima.  It means to speak right into your mind and your soul.   The very Mind of,  the very Will of, the very Love of God is being spoiken right into you by the power of the Holy Spirit every time you open the Scripture.  So God is  going to communicate this way, and you are going to hear something somebody else is not going to hear.  Something very special will happen to you that will not happen to somebody else.  You will hear His voice in a unique way.

What did God want to communicate?  His very nature, the characteristics that make Him up, His personality/person, His intentions, His Will.  How did He do this?  Through the person Jesus Christ.  That is the main theme of the entire outline.

God the Father is continuing throughout this very day to speak, to rheimas, to communicate with us.   We hear His voice, His intentions, His will, His spoken words through His Son, as written down on these pages John recorded.  Also through the understanding that the Spirit gave to John when he wrote them.

God always existed.  Here is how our founding fathers, in the year 180 AD began to speak.  One of them, Ignatius, said God always was, always is and God always shall be; He created everything out of nothing.  He didn't just exist as God, He existed as Trinity.  One God, yet three persons.  There is deep inside us this understanding of three in one.  We have three distinct relationships in our lives:  child of our parents, parent of our children, and spouse of our spouse (or God).  The Trinity has always existed.  The Spirit dwells within us this day in our hearts.  Look at verse 10:

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him."

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not recognize Him.  It is the same problem we have today when we are speaking with those people living in darkness.  They look at you like you have been duped; the light has not gone on.  If the bulb ever goes on, they'll come running to Christ.

God is our life.  The word here means to have life forever.  It was created to be immortal, and it will be immortal forever.   This eternal life has brought light and meaning to us.  Here light means illumination, enlightenment.  Still, we have questions.  Why do you think we have them?  Because we were meant to be curious, to search in the darkness for answers.  Why do we settle, when there is so much more God wants me to understand, so much more God wants me to do.  The first five verses of John are asking me to keep searching.  He was the answer to everything.  He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Light.  Search and search and search and search.  It's an ongoing verb and noun.   The Llight is a search, and the Light is an answer.

Eternal life equals spiritual life in the gospel of John because eternal life is brought to you by the Light of Christ, who is the  Light.  Some did believe Him and did receive Him, and were given the right to become children of God.  Before the  beginning of time, God held your soul.  Before He created, in the nothing, in the void, you were in His hand.  The psalms tell us, He knew us and loved us before we ever were.  You were loved before the foundations of the universe, and you are obviously loved right now because this is the time God has given us to show others the Light; and to help them seek and find eternal life that they might know that kind of love.  This is what John is trying to tell us.

When you were growing up you wanted your mother's love, but whose approval did you want?  Who did you want to say, "Well done, my child."  God is saying, "I have always loved you, I will always love you, I love you this moment, I will love you in the next second, I will love you forever.  Well done.  I'm proud of you."  God is our Light, the Light that shines in the darkness.

You have to keep speaking the Word of Light no matter what they tell you.  When you speak them they bring Life, they bring Light.  Trouble will find you when speak Life and Light.  You will be persecuted.  The Bible tells you, when you do this, great will be your reward in heaven. 

Jesus came for one purpose, to reveal God to us, His very Mind, His very Will, His very Love. for you and me.   The Spirit is implorng you today to live a new life in God today, and to live it again tomorrow.

NO RESERVES, NO RETREAT, NO REGRETS

2 CORINTHIANS 4:1-22

This letter is a special passage when we think of Christian ministry.  We pray that, in the name of Jesus, You would cause the miracle of preaching where mere human beings may speak as we have asked You, called by Your Spirit to unveil You for the benefit of Your people.  We pray that God's name be glorified, and all the plans and purposes of the devil may be nulled.

Bill Borden died at the age of 25, and left behind the phrase., "No reserves, no retreat, no regrets."  He was a 25-year-old that was so fired up the gospel, that he had a burning heart to proclaim the gospel and to bring the people.into the knowledge of grace.

This tradition of "No reserves, no retreat, no regrets" is one that we find in the apostle Paul, reflected in these verses, a tradition in which nothing must stop the work.  Nothing must prevent me from pursuing this gospel ministry of grace.  Borden's slogan lives on as a means of inspiration today, a tradition that is the living faith, the faith that was also present in people that are now dead.  But it is alive now; a faith of resolve.  Nothing is going to stop us.   Everything is going to be left on the field.  No reserves, no retreat, no regrets. 

Our reading today is pregnant with the resolve of this kind of faith, the resolve of people who are prepared to stop at nothing, even in the face of their own challenges, to make sure that the gospel goes forth.  So the whole chapter is full of useful reflection.

I would like to lift from this passage some apostolic musings.from the ajpostle  Paulv on Christian ministry.   I would like to lift four ideas for us.

1.  The privilege of Christian ministry.  There is a privilege that we always have to be mindful of The privlege, then, of Christian miniistry (verse 1):

"Therefore, since through Gods mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart."

It is through God's mercy that we have this ministry.  Nobody is helping God.   God does not look at outward appearances.  He looks at hearts.  Those people who have a calling must have a prevailing sense of privilege.  God, in His mercy, has chosen hiim.

2.  The preaching of Christian ministry.  There is a prescribed preaching.  It is not up to us to preach what we like.  Paul tells us that what we preach should not be ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.  There is a script--Jesus Christ as Lord.  The apostle continues by saying that there must be a clear understanding of ourselves in our preaching.  Our teaching is not about our prowess.  It's not really up to you.  If by God's mercy you are given this privilege to preach, the One who has given you the privilege has set the script.  We preach Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as the servants of the people of God, with a basin and a towel.

3.  The power of Christian ministry.  There is power and very seriously a concern to understand the source of this power.  Verse 7 tells us:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surupassing power is from God and not from us."  We should not make the mistake of thinking that the power of God is in the perfection of the pastor.   There is, in fact, a strategy that is deliberate, that God uses people who are imperfect.  Flawless perfection would be like God and we would be disappointed.  The perfection that the Bible speaks of is perfection of function.  God can cause you to be what you ought to be for His purpose.

4.  The promise of Christian ministry.  There is a motivationg promise that we must be aware of.  In the absence of the awareness of this promise, there is the possibility to lose heart, to be half-hearted, to retreat, and to even have regrets.   No reserves, no retreat, no regrets.  A tradition that must be kept alive, a tradition that must be the experience of the people of God in this time, when there are so many things that threaten more people to lose heart (verse 18): 

"So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

There are persons who are focused on temporal things that are jpassing away.  This passage has to do with the Spirit that gives life.  As you look on the face of Christ, not on the things around us, temporal things will fade away in importance.   The promise of this ministry is that, while you are looking on Jesus, you are being changed from glory to glory into what you are.

Why is it that there is no reserve, no retreat, no regret?   It is where we have our eyes.  Because if our eyes are on Jesus, we do not lose heart.  From glory to glory, He is leading us.

 

 

 

What Is Liberty?

Galatilans 5:1, 4, 7-10a, 12-15

Our founding fathers stood up and said that we have liberty under the law; therefore, with liberty under the law would come prosperity.   We will only prosper as we honor the King, as we live under the law but by grace.  Sometimes, in the modern age, we want to divorce one from the the other, but we can't.  Have you taken a lookk around at your country, at your state?  Have you looked at the world?  Do you see what happens when liberty becomes a license to do whatever you feel like?  We have gotten to the point of thinking liberty is "I can do whatever I want."   That was never the intention of our founding fathers and mothers.  It was the intention that we would live under the law of God, that we would live with grace and forgive those who don't, and give them a chance, a second chance if it was, to make it right.  This is why Jesus was able to be the one who would come to Isaiah 61:1-2 and read these words:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and thr day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn."

Words read also at the Continental Congress, at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  How about James, the brother of Jesus, who writes these words to us in 1:22-25:

"Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.   Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blesses in what he does."

The words of the New Jersey Congress.  Wow!  What a heritage we have!  We have this, and yet we let it go, because we hear a culture who says we need to be quiet, tolerant.  Let me tell you something about our modern age.  It is tolerant of everything but Jesus.  This country was founded by God, not by people.  It is tolerant of everything that says our rights do not come from people, but that they are inalienable, endowed by their (not the government) - Creator.

Start speaking up.  Do not be silent anymore, or the rights we have today will not be here tomorrow.  If we are not careful, this place will be outlawed.  Have brotherly love, but speak the truth.  Be bold enough to speak it, and be bold enough to love at the same time.  I will tell you what will happen.  They will think you're a five-headed hydrant.  What do we see, hear, and read from the media.  That if we don't agree with you, we don't like you.  That's not true.  We can stand the the truth, and love people at the same time.  We can tell people there's a better way.  There is liberty under the law.  And that's what St. Paul says to us.  Ironically, he was having trouble with the Church in Galatia.  Imagine a church having trouble.  I have entitled our sermon today, "What really is liberty?  Let's look at what St. Paul says in 5:1:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

God will no longer give you grace if you keep trying to do it yourself.  What God want to hear from us is that we cannot make it without Him.  We need Him so desperately today.  We need to stand in the Holy Spirit's power, I need to listen to His voice, I need to be led by Him.  Only then will He create any perfection in me and in you.  It's a moment by moment, second by second reliance upon the Spirit of God.   For we, through the Spirit, eagerly wait the hope of righteousness by faith.  We eagerly waith to see what it will be like when we're glorified.  We also eagerly wait to see what it will look like on earth as we further His Kingdom as holy people of God. people of liberty, people who have not forgotten their past, neither from God or from their founding fathers.  Paul asked in in verses 7-10a:

"Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?  That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you.  A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. ("He means one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.)  I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view."

In verses 13 and 14:

You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge and sinful nature, rather, serve one another is love."

Think more highter of others but not yourself.  Always look to the need of someone else.-, and if you do you fulfill the law.  Verse 14 and 15:

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."

School shootings, shootings in public places, violence.  We're literally consuming our flesh now.  We have gone so far away from the law of liberty under the law.  So, what does it mean to be recalled to that?  Where would we begin to get a grip on what liberty even means nowadays?  How many know about historical revisionism? They rewrite history to say whatever they want it to say.  That's happening all over the place.  So where where does one actually get a grip on what the framers of our Constitution really mean?  Go back and review and read exactly what they said and what they wrote.  Look at the founding fathers, and mothers too.  Their letters to their husbands - 96% of the time they quoted the Bible or talked about God.  What were they thinking about always?  About being a follower of Jesus Christ--Christian first.  In letters to her husband, Abigail Adams would quote the Bible because she would say how much she loved it because of how much God loved her.  Her relationship with God the Father exceeded her relationship with him, but he was second to none.  THat's the way our marriages should be. Who should come first?  God, then our spouse, tthen our freindships and communities.

Our founding fathers established the principles upon which freedom is based.  People say you can't legislate morality.  President Thomas Jefferson stated that God gave us life, and can a nation be secure if we remove the firm basis on which it stands?  What is liberty?   A gift of what?  The God who is actively involved in your life.

How many times do you see self-discipline, self-control in the Bible. Over 3000 times. We sustain ourselves over the Ten Commandments.  Go to the LIbrary of Congress and read a private letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Evangelical Society of Pastors.  He saiys, "there exists ...an invisible wall.  Me dear comrades in the Congress,  the government shall never inform the church ever but the church shall ever inform government."  He is talking about a one-way wall where church is actively involved in government but the government is never involved in the church.  That is where separation of church and state comes from, not from the Constitution.  What is it based on?   The Ten Commandments.

If you don't have a habit of prayer, make it one.  Force yoiurself.  It is by God's Spirit that victory will come among us, that the Spirit of God wll invade this community, and the  people will be called to Him.  It will be in direct proportion to you and me getting on our knees, begging God and hearing from Him all together.  You will hear it coming frrom everywhere.  Ask God to give you different glasses, so when you see people, you will see their ;potential, not what they are.  

Where would we get a grip on understanding liberty in the Bible? Look at the inspiration of the writings of the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul in verse 1:

"...Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Start living holy lives.  When the devil comes, there is a way out.  Ask the Spirit to defend you.  Live a life full of grace toward yourself and others.  Forgive yourself first.  Start grace toward yourself, and then you will have grace toward others.  Live a life surrendered to God.  Start living it now, so you will be glorified then.   

Live a life of eternal life.  In the morning, put on your spiritual glasses.  Look at everything with eternity in view.  Start looking at the world, at people, differently.   Look at their potential.  Live a life in God's trust.  Put on the mind of Christ.  Live a life of service tpward your family and friends.  Do not use your liberty to make good things for your own life, but through love serve one another.  Isn't that the whole basis of marriage?  Live a life of love toward your neighbor.  

We can live by liberty, which is living life the way our founding fathers and mothers did.  The world will come to know the truth in your life and in the llife of your Christian neighbors, the truth of the Word of God.  A nation will realize that it is born of God when they see you.  The truth of the gospel of Christ will be real, because it is found in a real person.  You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Word Of God Reveals Himself

John 1:1-18

Verses 1-5: 

"In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made.   In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.    The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."  

God sent His messenger, a man named John, to tell people about the light, so that all should hear the message and believe.  John himself was not the Light, but he came to tell people about the Light, the real Light.  The Word was here in the world, Jesus, but no one recognized Him.  He came to His own country, but His own peope did not receive Him.  Some, however, did receive Him and believed in Him, so they were given the right to become God's children.  Theiy did not become God's children by natural means.  

The Word became a human being.  He was made incarnate, flesh.  God became man, full of grace and truth; and He lived among us.   We saw His glory, the glory which He received as the Father's only Son.  John spoke about Him in verses 15-18:

....He cries out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.'  From the fullness of His grace, we have all received one blessing after another.   For the law was give through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one  has ever seen God, but God the One and Only , who is at the Father's side, has made Him known.

Did you notice that "the Word" and "Him" go together ever single time?  When we speak of the "Logos" we are not only speaking about the written Word of God, but also the One who speaks words to us, who is the incarnation of God, the Christ.  It is one and the same.

The Gospel of John is totally the inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaking to John, who constructed the Gospel literally through a divine plan of revelation.  The Spirit spoke in such a way that John could see the pattern in things, a divine pattern coming from heaven, so that he could understand it.  The history of John is not chronological, except the very first story, the wedding at Cana, and the end, when Jesus dies and is raised.  John gives us a divine outline, literally seeing the mind of God.  The prologue of the gospel becomes an outline for the whole book.  It conains every element of the rest of the gospel, and it gives you the true identity of the Son of God.  Every characteristic Jesus had is found in the gospel of John.

The first thing we encounter in the gospel of John is the Word of God, Logos.  The entire preamble (chapter 1) has it three times.  The Logos is one and how many parts are in the One?  Every paragraph starts with Jesus, the Logos.

The next thing you read is Jesus is the Light of the world.  He brought light to the world--chapter 1 in Genesis.   If the source of all light stepped into darkness what would there be?  GOD stepped into the void.  The Father, Son, and Spirit stepped into nothing.  That's what John is talking about.  In the beginning, the Light was God, the One who came down to earth.

What else did Jesus show us?   The glory of John's gospel is  in the middle of chapter 19, verse 30, when the Son cries out:

'....it is finished."

This is glory for the gospel of John.    The King sacrifices Himself for me and for you.  Glory is sitting on the mercy seat of the Art of the covenant.  That is Christ's glory, to die for you and me.  What a King!

Truth of God, truth and holiness, the very character of God.  He is holy above all else.  Therefore, everything He does is perfect, it's ordinate, it's in place, and iti's always speaking the truth.  Pontius Pilate in John 19:37, "You are a king, then!.......Jesus answered, '....I came into the world to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

As Jesus revealed to John revelations, and John was the revelator writing it down, Jesus was the revelator of the Bible.  Our faith is crystallogical. What Christ showed us, we believe.  He showed us the Godhead Trinity.  This is what is found in the prologue.  Sven major phrases.

The  origin of the "LOGOS" or Word of God concept, has been around literally forever.  The idea of the perfect Mind of God, the perfect Will of God, the perfect Wisdom of God, all that He knows,  and the perfect Word of God coexisting with the Being of God has existed in the Knowledge and understanding of all people groups since the creation of the world.  The Word is not something He just throws out.  It is God speaking Himself into the world.  

God does not leave anything to chance, not one part of your life, not one part of the creation.  God knew that, in the fullness of time, He would send His Son, born of a woman unto God.  He knew that He would wait for the Roman Empire to pave the way.  God chose that exact moment in time before the foundations of the world, when He would send the Logos.  It's not by chance at all!  It was planned right down to the minutia.  When we see Jesus, we see the Father God.

All this knowledge, all this understanding, all you know about creation and don't understand, know is all made known.  No more wondering. 

ONE important change never before heard in any history, philosophy, religion, or writing of any kind.  This NEW REVELATION found throughout the Gospel of John is this:  that the LOGOS, the Word of God, is embodied in the flesh (Incarnation) of God in Man!  This is the only time God became one of us, 100% God, 100% man.   The LOGOS, the Word of God, is only found in the Person of Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God.

Here is some self-reflection for you:

Are you ready to discover who God the Father is?  Would you like to know your Father better?

Are you ready to meet Jesus Christ in person?

Are you ready to encounter God's Holy Spirit on a daily basis?

Are you ready to hear God's Spirit directly speaking to you?

Are you ready to reply to God the Father in truth and faith?

Are you ready to respond in love and obedience to Christ Jesus?

Are you ready to love and serve your neighbors?

Are you ready to tell others about the God you have come to know?  As you know Him more, you will be able to speak about Him.  God shows us clearly who He is.  God is the God of the living, not of the dead.  He is the God of Moses, Abraham.  I am the God right here, right now; IHe is the God of the living.  Is He not the God of the past and the future?  He is always the God of the present, ever present with us right this second.

Are you ready to be renewed and transformed every day by the Spirit of God?

Let us embark on discovering who God really is, the Logos, the very mind of, the very will of, the very wisdom of, the very love of, the Word of God Himself.  To Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever.

 

 

GOD IS LOOKING FOR A FEW COURAGEOUS MEN

Joshua 1:1-9 and Numbers 13 and 14

C.S. Lewis put God on trial for almost seven years every saturday morning in the Cambridge halls of Oxford University.  One of his greatest books came out of that search of seven years called "Mere Christianity.  He came up with three arguments. 

Either God is the greatest liar the world has ever known, making Him worse than satan;  or He is the greatest lunatic ever born, and He thinks He really is God; or He is the Lord of all creation and of man.  Liar, lunatic, or Lord.  But where did it come from?  It came from the tutilage of J.R.R. Tolkien.  Both of them wrote books later in life written for people who may never come to Church, but may still hear the gospel.  That was the whole pupose in writing these books.  If you looked at the imagery going on, you would realize the entire history of the world was being retold, in a way, through fantasy. 

Men, many of us in our society have lost their way.  I think the reason families have fallen apart is because we have not done enough to win these men, and to lead them.  So I'm going to ask you today to think about being courageous.  I'm going to ask you today to enlist in God's army.  We are talking about Joshua today.  39 1/2 years of combat - that's what God called Joshua to be. 

Men, you are fathers.  You are made in the image of God, your Father.   You have a job to do; father the homeless, father the one who has lost a father, father your own, father a generation of young men that need to hear the call.  Let us get into the message this morning looking at Joshua 1:1-3:

"After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide.   'Moses my servant is dead.  Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites.  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses."

 Men, ladies, we need to tread this good earth, and wherever we tread, God will not only be with us, He will redeem with us where we tread.  That's what it means to take the land, and to enter into the rest (verses 4-9):.

"Your territory will extend from the desert of Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates - all the Hittite country - to the Great Sea on the west.  No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.   Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.   Be strong and very courageous.  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.   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.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Three commands, three "I am"s.  All of the Trinity stands at our beck and call, by the power of the Spirit within us, to walk this good earth, and to win it back for the Lord.  Time to prove your metal, Joshua and Caleb.  Here are your orders.  Go scout, reconnoiter, map it out,  secure proof of what you see, and report back.  Dodge the enemy.  Don't let him see you.

God is calling us to enlist in His army as Christian soldiers, and follow Him in full obedience, unwavering in our faith, no matter what we encounter.   God is commanding us men to give a true testimony and witness to God's chosen people  If we are going to stand up in this community, we need to be giving a witness, that is, with our actions, our deeds, and our words.  Speak with your mouth, and do by your action, imitating what Christ did.  Remember, the Son of man came to seek and save lives, and He came to serve.  So first, we have to give a testimony and a witness. Now, here's the deal men.  If we do that, we better be accountable.  Because, if we fall, whose good name will we let fall?  Not ours, but Christ Jesus.

God is commanding us men to lead our families and God's chosen people in courage and in faith.  Our secular humanist society would get us so that we are so equal that everything men can do, women can do.  Has anyone noticed that will never be possible?  For most men, we can do one thing well if we do one thing at a time.  Ladies, how about six, seven or eight.  We have one job, men: to be leaders.  Do not let society rob you of being the leader in your home.  That doesn't mean tyrannical!  That doesn't mean you're a dictator.  It means you're the servant leader.  You represent good.  You represent Christ himself.  We should be willing to give our lives for our wives and our children.  I don't just mean physically.  Stop letting society rob you, men, of your leadership. 

Now masculinity, without the Spirit of God, is toxic.  When masculinity and spirituality go side by side and it's tempered, there is love and there's also strong leadership.  How many of us see that the trail of despair is all that captures society today?  The culture of death.  We hear the report of the majority and not the report of the minority.  What do I mean by that?  We're not hearing from the Christians. 

What we believe about God's character, what we know of His faithfulness, what we know of His ability, that will dictate how faithful we are.   That will dictate our actions.  If we think God doesn't answer prayer anymore, if we think God doesn't do miracles anymore, I'm here to tell you that God never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever.  The One who could lead Joshua to 39 years of victories is the same One who will lead us in victory today.  Do you believe nothing is impossible with God?   God just wants you to show up.  And God will use you.  You'll be amazed at what He does through you.  You will be amazed at how He accomplishes what He's about to do.  It never ceases to amaze me. 

It takes all of us, living lives of holiness and transparency, living lives that are courageous.  When we all do it, there will be a power that goes out from us and from this place that nothing can stand against.  I'm asking you not only to enlist, but to do your very best for Christ.   I'm asking you to follow His orders day and night.  I'm asking you to do it with excellence and with courage.  In Joshua's day, they were led by the Spirit of God, moment by moment.  DId they win, community by community, and bring the Word of God wherever they went?  You bet. 

Do you know what?  They also brought a healthy fear. Sometimes we don't fear the Lord enough.  Awe, respect.  We are just a dim reflection of Him at best.  Folks, because of what Jesus Christ did, we walked into the Holy of Holies.  We don't walk into the presence of God; the presence of God lives in us.  Where does that courage come from when you stand there?  From Him.  You're scared.  I get it.  I am too.   If you saw the ten plagues, you'd have awe and you'd have respect. 

Our actions and our leadership in the face of adversity will influence others' faith and trust in God.  It will.  People can lose faith and hope, and then they see you helping just one person and that person finding peace; and you can't imagine what happens to the people who see that event. You can't imagine how they rally.  I see the fear in your eyes, the fear that would take me.  But not this day!  Our faithful response to God's leading influence the depth and strength of our advancement or retreat of God's Kingdom on earth.  How we lead, how we influence, will either advance the Kingdom of God or it won't.  If we want to advance the Kingdom of God, we will let God lead, and we will advance it further than ever before. 

The media, the whole world has Christians afraid to open their mouths.  Open it!  How many people did Paul influence from jail?  Who knows?  Rebel against being quiet.  You have an order from God to open your mouth.  Do it peacefully, lovingly, but open your mouth.  Do not be silent.  Respond in faith as courageous Godly men.  If you stand for Jesus, guess who will come against you?  Everybody who doesn't. 

Of the original people who went into the desert for 40 years, only the families of Caleb and Joshua made it through. The other 2 million people perished.  Wow!    Have you seen God's glory?  Does God's glory live within you?  Then we are without excuse. 

Those who do not believe and trust in the Lord will not enter into their inheritance.  If we are obedient, we get heaven, we get to see God in person, the big guy.  If there's one thing a soldier has to be it's loyal.  Every order has to be followed to a tee.  Do you know Caleb got a whole piece of the land that even Judah didn't  get.  The hill of Hebron was his home, along with the servant Joshua.    The lives of two great men demonstrate two Godly timeless truths. 

If we believe and obey God's Word and His Will for our lives, then we will receive God's blessing.  How?  In our personal lives first. men and women, each of us; then in our families; then in the life of this Church.  Then in the life of our community all around us;  Then even to the ends of the earth.  Joshua fulfilled his mission all 39 years to perfection.  It is possible to make it through this life, and do it well. 

As we get older, finishing well is what is important.  You cannot retire from God's work.  Wherever you go, you are enlisted in the army of God.  You are called  to continue until the day God takes you to Himself.  The retirement plan is beautiful.  Let me tell you about it.  It is a land flowing with milk and honey, full of riches beyond your wildest dreams; it is a land always present; it is a land always in one another's presence.  It is a land where worship and praise never end, where God will wipe every tear from your eye.  So if you want to retire, retire when He calls.  As long as you are here, I'm going to ask you to stay enlisted.  Is that  ok?

Seven commands and seven blessings:

1.  If you place God first and alone in your life, you will have the blessing of eternal life.

2.  If you place your trust in God alone, you will have the blessing of peace.  Because your trust is not an earthly thing, it's in God.  And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

3.  Tell others of God's goodness.  Be a blessing of encouragement to others.  Encourage others to keep the faith.  Be a blessing of assurance in your faith, and they will have assurance in their faith.

4.  Spread the good news of God in the community, and you will be a blessing of hope.  You will give them the chance to begin to know who you know.

5.  Live the life of holiness.  Live it so that no one can say one bad thing about you, and you will be a true disciple; you will have the blessing of following.

6.  Do not fear anyone except God.   Fear Him who made the body and the soul.  The world will rob you of your future if you do not stand up and say, I will go in there and help that person.  This church has a right to help anybody as long as we are willing to dig deep into that pocket that God has filled with His gold, and from this heart that He has enriched by His Spirit.  Offer salvation to whoever we see.  We will stand as the honor guard of a king.

7.  Let us men be courageous before God our Father.  Let us men lead and serve our families with the love of God our Father.  Strong really comes from love.  Let us men lead and serve God's chosen people within His Chruch.  Let us men lead and serve His wayward and broken people in His community.  Let us together, men and women, follow obediently our Commander and our Savior, God.  Let us together help to build His community here on the earth in our homes, in our community, and in our world.  Let us together be His courageous people, witnessing to the powerful and mighty God we love and serve.  With Him nothing is impossible.

I want to recall those fateful words  in Joshua 24 verses 14-15;

"Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.  Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."