Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:8
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:8
Here are my notes on the homily I gave yesterday at an assisted living facility:
The message I want to share with you today comes from the book of Joshua. If you have your Bible, turn with me to Joshua chapter one. In verse seven we find these words, “be strong and very courageous.” These are God’s words to Joshua after the Israelites are devastated by the death of Moses. They all loved Moses. For forty years he led God’s people. To give you an idea of how well loved he was, turn back one page to Deuteronomy 34:12. “For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”
Joshua had some tough shoes to fill. He had to step in to a leadership position and be responsible for well over a million people. The Israelites were surrounded by the Canaanites. It was clear where Joshua was going lead them—into the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. BUT conquering this land was another matter. So many uncertainties lay ahead. How would they get across the Jordan River at flood stage? How would they overcome great walled cities and mighty armies? What about the giants they would have to face?
Are you facing giant obstacles in your life? Maybe your world has recently been turned upside down, having lost someone close to you? God’s words to Joshua apply to us today, “Be strong and courageous!”
You may be saying to yourself my situation is different. How can I possibly be strong and courageous? Look at verse five, “As I [God] was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not leave you or forsake you,” In verse nine God tells Joshua, “I will be with you wherever you go.” You see, God is not sitting up in heaven dreaming up new ways to make us miserable. He’s not sleeping, nor is he distracted with other matters, leaving us to face our problems alone. God says He is with us every day as we journey through life, especially when we are facing difficult circumstances. You might say God sticks to us like glue!
Faith and obedience are two things that made Joshua a successful leader. Joshua believed God is who he says he is. We need to remind ourselves regularly this means God is God and we are not. Complete trust in God makes obedience a joyful, not tedious endeavor. Obedience for or the Israelites meant being careful to obey God’s law given to Moses. Verse 7 says, “do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” We Christians demonstrate our obedience, by loving God with all our heart, soul and mind AND loving our neighbors as we would ourselves Matthew 22:37.
My Sunday school class is studying the book of Joshua. We have been learning how God worked mighty miracles over the course of Joshua’s life. The only reason the Israelites were able to conquer the Promised Land was because God fought for them. God dammed up the flooded river Jordan so the Israelites could cross on dry ground. He shook the mighty walls of Jericho as the Israelites shouted, causing them to collapse. God even stopped the path of sun and the moon for about a day so the Israelites could defeat their enemies in battle. God did these things for the Joshua and the Israelites because of their faith and obedience. Jesus, our Joshua, will do mighty things in our lives if we have faith and will just trust him to the point of being obedient.
Let me tell you a story of how God intervened in this one little thing in my life. If we are not careful to notice the little things God does for us they can easily be overlooked.
We bought a new puppy a little over a year ago. His name is Brody. He is a crème colored short-legged creature called mini dachshund. One day not too long ago he was in some kind of stomach or intestinal distress. Every hour on the hour he would climb up into my wife’s lap and begin yipping loudly. This went on for several hours; every hour on the hour. You can imagine how stressful this was to Patty and I. After several hours of this, we decided to call the vet and take him in. But before we did we casually prayed God would touch his little body. Have you ever prayed one of those quick nonchalant prayers, “God help __________” (fill in the blank).
Was it silly to pray for a puppy? I don’t think so. I think that God cares about the things we care about. Anyway, we arrived at the vet and I readied myself as we closed in on Body’s yipping time. The time came and went with no yipping. I remember thinking maybe it would happen a few minutes later this time but it didn’t. Several minutes passed until it was time to meet with the vet. She probed and probed and could not find anything wrong with him so she sent us on our way.
Well, I paid the vet bill and caught myself grumbling, if we had waited another hour or two, then a trip to the vet wouldn’t have been necessary and we wouldn’t be out the money. It’s easy to grumble and complain about things that happen to us in life isn’t it. Well, this time I stopped myself in the middle of my grumbling and thought, Hey, wait a minute, we prayed God would touch little Brody and he did!
My grumbling almost cost me a chance to recognize God’s handiwork and the fact he does care about me. Folks, let me encourage you to not to be like the world around us and pass off the little things God does in your life as coincidence. Praise God for every little thing he does for you. Count your blessings when you pray. Each time you do you are thanking and praising God!
So, do you believe God still works in the lives of those who love and obey Him? Do you believe God will help you be strong and courageous in times of great difficulty? Look at verse thirteen, God promised the Israelites he would give them rest when they inhabited the Promised Land.
Does life leave you feeling tired? Do you long for rest? I’ve begun to count down the years until my retirement. I won’t bore you with the exact number. Like most of you I’ve labored long and hard for a lot of years. I’ve worked in a plastics factory, for a packaging and assembly business and in an order fulfillment warehouse. I’ve sat at a desk doing computer work. My most job is with Pearce Church doing anything and everything they need me to do. You know what? I often go home tired and weary. I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock anymore. I am looking forward to resting.
Have you found a place of rest in your journey? Do you want to find peace in the midst of your struggles? Let’s look at a couple of scripture passages about peace and rest.
In Matthew chapter 11 Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Hebrews chapter 13 says, “be content with what we have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”
My friends hear the word of the Lord! Be strong and courageous! Have faith and trust God because He is with us—ALWAYS!
It’s been a while since I shared a Brody update. I can assure you that he is alive, well and full of himself. I refer to Jake and Brody as “brothers” though the only thing they have in common is that they are both long-hair mini dachshunds. Jake is 10 years older than Brody but you wouldn’t know it when they are rough-housing around the house. They do tend to look out for one another, whether they’re penned up, relaxing on the sofa or out for a walk. They also eat and drink from the same bowls without fighting.
Their camaraderie gets cloudy, however, when treats or toys are introduced into the equation. I’m careful to give each dog the same item but within minutes each creature immediately wants the other’s prize without letting go of the one they already possess. It’s a funny thing to watch two dogs vie for the other’s prize but not quite so funny when we look at our own lives and see something similar happening.
I need to be reminded once in a while to be content with what I have already.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
“Can’t find God in the usual places…churches, books, or preachers’ faces? Keep on searching and don’t give up, you may just find Him in the eyes of a pup.”
Richard C. Call
In the second chapter of his book, Tozer poses the question, “What is God like?”
“When the Scripture states that man was made in the image of God, we dare not add to that statement an idea from our own head and make it mean in the exact image. To do so is to make man a replica of God, and that is to lose the unicity of God and end with no God at all.”
Tozer goes on to say:
“Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need him. We want a God we can in some measure control. We need a feeling of security that comes from knowing what God is like…”
Tozer adds that the answer to the question, what God is like, can be answered in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.
“In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.”
We can only begin to understand what God is like if we study what Tozer regards as God’s attributes, which he addresses in the rest of the book. A divine attribute he says, “is something true about God.”
“A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of the traits that compose it. These traits very from man to man…The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God, it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but the absence of parts. Between His attributes no contradiction can exist.”
When we look at God’s attribute of love, using the above above quotation, it is not something He has, love is who he is. Tozer goes on to discuss many other attributes such as the Trinity, His self existence, eternity, infinitude, omniscience, sovereignty and many more.
It is a great book, which I highly recommend reading. For those of us with a casual view of God it will shake up our perception of Him. As you progress through the book, you will be acquainted with the depths of God’s love and the height of His holiness.
Check out this song by Addison Road, “What do I know of holy”. It certainly captures a desire to know what is God like.
In my upcoming, yet to be titled book I offer this thought:
“Children take to puppies like hydrogen molecules take to oxygen. Once they bond, they are hard to separate.”