Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 4) – You Gotta Examine Yo’self…

Posted: June 9, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 7:1-15 (Part 4 of 4)

Ai Defeats the Israelites

We are about enter a unique time in our church’s short history (we will only be 10 years old this October). Our senior pastor is going on sabbatical for a little over a month. It will be the first time that he has taken any significant time off since he founded the church in the living room of his house almost 10 years ago. His stated purpose in doing so is to take some concentrated time in prayer and supplication before the Lord to develop a vision for the next 10 years of the church. He says he needs time to examine himself and his role in the future of the church and examine, even if, he is supposed to be a part of the church’s future for the next 10 years. He will be examining himself before the Lord and seeking the Lord’s will for his ministry and for our church.

 

While he is gone on sabbatical, the remaining elders are going to run the church in his absence and are going to led the church in a time of prayer. Each Wednesday night during our senior pastor’s sabbatical, we are going to have times of prayer. It will be a time where we just meet to wholly and earnestly seek the Lord in prayer. I hope that it will be a time like what my wife and I experienced when we went on our first mission trip to Haiti. At the church in the small rural community of Morne Oge (just outside the city of Jacmel) that our church is partnered with, they have a Tuesday night prayer meeting each week (not just a special month). The time our mission team visited it, I was profoundly affected by it. Although I did not understand a word they were saying (because I do not understand their French derivative language, Creole), I did feel the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit that night. There was no pastor leading this prayer meeting. It was just the members of the church coming in and spending time in vocal but personal prayer. By the time the prayer meeting got going good, there were somewhere between 75-100 people there, men and women. Each one was praying aloud to the Lord in their own voice not in unison with one another. Their vocal prayers filled the room and the intensity would rise and fall like the movements of a classical music piece. It was an amazing thing to behold. Each person seeking communion with the Father in heaven. It was a cacophony of sound that I will never forget. The passion with which these people prayed needed no translation. I didn’t know what they were saying, specifically. All I knew was that they were seeking the Lord in the humbled and earnest way possible. That needed no translation from Creole to English. It was one of the most spiritually moving moments of my life. I literally tasted the presence of the Holy Spirit on my tongue that night. These people were honestly seeking the Lord’s favor and seeking understanding of His will for their lives. I can only hope that our prayer meetings in July will approach a semblance of that night. I hope that we will let it all hang out as week seek God’s will and seek what we need to know about ourselves as we hold these prayer meetings. I pray that these prayer meetings will reveal God’s will and what we need to do to align ourselves with that.

 

As well during the month of July, we as a church body are to be dedicated to times of personal prayer each day about our own role in the future of our church. It will be a further time of examination of ourselves and what we need to do to be better members of the body of Christ as it expresses itself at LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC. Also, after all of that, and we approach our 10 year anniversary, we are going to have our church’s first revival ever. It will be a time where we intensely seek the Lord’s will for our lives and that of our church over four very intense nights. What’s the point of all this? We are seeking God and asking him to send revival to our region through our church. We are seeking that God will pour out the Holy Spirit upon our church. We are seeking God to send us revival and renewed vigor to seek the lost in our region and bring them to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

The biggest thing to that I believe is that we must examine ourselves to see where we are preventing the Holy Spirit from truly expressing himself in the reach of our church to our community, nation and world. We must examine what is that I am doing that is sinful and is preventing or holding back our church from its full-on, no-holes-barred fulfillment of God’s specific mission for it. Is there some prideful thing that I am holding on to that is blocking the full expression of God’s glory from this version of His bride, the local church. What spots am I placing on the wedding dress of His bride? What am I doing or not doing that is holding the church back? What am I not willing to do for the Lord that is holding our church back? What am I doing that is holding the church back? We must examine ourselves and our willingness to be all-in for Christ. We must examine our willingness to follow leadership? We must examine our willingness to sacrifice for the purpose of reaching lost souls in our time, our talents, and our resources? We must be willing to seek excellence when mediocrity is what we have been giving. We must examine ourselves for the sinful ways that we have been holding back our church from reaching the lost of our community more effectively. In effect, it is going to be a crossroad moment in time. I just hope and pray that we take our time of reflection as seriously and deeply as that group of church members in rural Haiti did that night I visited their prayer time.

 

That idea of examining ourselves is what I thought of when I read about God  having its consequences is what I thought of this morning as I read through Joshua 7:1-15 for the third of four times that we will read through it. Let’s read it together, now:

 

7 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

 

2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.

 

3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

 

6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”

 

10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.

 

13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.

 

14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”

 

In this passage, for this morning, we see that the Israelites had to, again, undergo purification rites, as when they were about to cross the Jordan River. These purification rites prepared the people to approach God and constantly reminded them of their sinfulness and God’s holiness.

 

It is interesting to note that there was only one person who had sinned by keeping loot from Jericho but yet God asked the whole nation to purify itself. That is the thing that is important to me here. Sure, Achan was the dude that screwed up, but God wanted the whole nation to examine itself. There is no one of us that is without sin. There is not one that is righteous. These facts are certain because the Bible repeatedly tells us that we have a sin nature and that none is without sin. None is pure before the Lord. The greatest sin of all is to think that we have got it made. My best friend and I had a guy dinner last night for the first time in a while. Us without our wives. One of the things that we talked about is how, even after salvation, we are still sinners and have sinful thoughts or actions that we commit daily. That is what God is trying to get the people to see here I think. It is when we refuse to see our sins as sins and revel in them that we block God’s work in our lives and in the lives of our collective body known as the church.

 

If we want God to send revival, if we want God to do great things through our church, then we must examine how committed we are to His agenda. Are we willing to examine ourselves for what we are doing to cause God to hold back His glory from our church? Are we willing to examine how we have caused God to withdraw His hand from our church, your church? What do I need to do to align myself with God’s will and am I willing to make any sacrifices to do it? Am I willing to give up my pet sins to do it? Am I willing to see my sins as sins and repent from them so as restore God’s hand on my church, your church?

 

Let us all enter a time in the next month, in your church, in my church where we seek to align ourselves with God’s will for our local churches and be willing to make changes where changes need to be made so that God’s glory can be fully expressed through our local churches.

 

Amen and Amen.

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