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ONE PASSION ONE DEVOTION (1)

 

Ever had a day where everything seems to loom over you like the shadow of a giant fortified city?  You look for a way through and there seems to be no way.    We seem so small and the difficulty seems so large.You look for a solution and you need a degree in McGyverism to make a plan.

In Joshua 5 we find Joshua in such a place.  Jericho is staring Joshua in the face, with its imposing, impenetrable walls towering over him.  Overcoming this city seems impossible.  More than anything, this city was the greatest obstacle preventing the Israelite’s from possessing their Promised Land.   It was in the shadow of Jericho where Joshua had an amazing encounter with God that changed his life and destiny.

The good news is that God was on scene before we were. That means the world belongs to Him. He designed everything in creation with a specific purpose. The world not only belongs to Him; He knows the best way for it to operate. He knows the way forward. He knows everything that influences today and tomorrow. He has the blueprints for our life. He is the commander of the army. He calls the shots and gives the orders. He has the battle strategy.

Joshua’s question in Joshua 5:13 “are you for us or for against us?” is a bit like how we can see God sometimes. Is he on our side or their side?  Are we on His side or my side?  Sometimes He’s on our page, sometimes we can be stamping our foot and going “seriously!”

But the reality is we need to be on HIS page. He is God and I am not.

 

“This is God’s universe and he does things his way. Now, you may have a better way of doing things, but you don’t have a universe.”

 

It’s the wisest decision to let Him be in complete control. It makes sense that if He is the Commander in Chief that we would not only consult Him in all things but that we would surrender to Him in all things.  Not just because He is the Lord of Lords and the Creator of the Universe, but for more personal, intimate reasons.

God gets you.

He sees you.

He knows your fears and dreams, your flaws and your strengths.

He is not far away but just as He was with Joshua, He is right beside us.

God met Joshua beside Jericho. Jericho represents that thing that is standing between us and the Promised Land. That obstacle looming on the horizon that we wonder how we’ll get past.

 

What is the Jericho you face?

 

Each of us will face situations that may seem like they are a great big fortress – a Jericho in our life.

Life can sometimes be messy. Families can be messy. Discovering who you are can be messy. Finding your feet in the world can be messy. Bills can be messy. Emotions can be messy. Health can be messy.

Your Jericho may be discouragement or fear. It may be an area of sin that you want to once and for all overcome but seem to keep on returning to. It may be failure and compromise.

But I want to assure you today that what looks to us to be impenetrable and undefeatable is defeatable when we surrender to Jesus. No sin is greater. No sickness is greater. No situation is greater. No spiritual force is greater. No darkness is greater. No failure is greater. Greater is He in you than he that is in the world.

The first step to overcoming the Jericho in your life is to surrender to God. To recognize His rule in our lives.

We need this in two ways:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Last week i spoke at our 7pm service @ The River as part of a series called EYES OPEN.

I spoke about how Joshua lifted his eyes and saw God and that enabled the walls of Jericho to fall down and for Joshua and his people to move into victory.

The big question of the night was : What is the Jericho in your life?

Eyes Open – To See God

Eyes Open – To Surrender

Eyes Open – To See

Eyes Open – To Worship

Eyes Open – To Hear

Eyes Open – To Follow

Eyes Open – To Victory

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Jericho is a real make or break moments for Joshua. This is his opportunity to make his mark on the future of his people, to demonstrate his leadership prowess. And we see that one of the keys to Joshua’s breakthrough was that he had to follow God.

Joshua worshipped and heard. And what he heard must have made him go what the heck! God had a very non traditional battle plan.

The instructions were to walk around the city, once a day for 6 days. In silence. With the priests carrying the ark and trumpets. Which they don’t use.

Until the 7th day and then they have to go round 7 times and then shout when God tells Joshua.

Now Joshua is probably really glad that he lived a time with no facebook or twitter. Imagine how the feeds would have blown up!

#stillmarching This is one way to get my 10,000 steps in

So hard trying to keep my kids quiet on this long march. the boys just want to yell! #takethecity

March around a city? Heck, we can do that! We marched around that blasted desert for 40 years.  #justdoit

Just keep marching. Just keep marching. Marching marching marching. #srsly

Trumpets? What? That blows!

Seven times around the city? No problem, thanks to #ArkoftheCovenantFit!

If I wanted to travel in circles I would join NASCAR.

Joshua has lost his ever-loving mind. #blesshisheart

God is straight up crazy.

(thanks Dreamers and Builders for your creativity and wit for those!)

When we’re facing our own Jericho it’s important to know that God is with us. As Saviour and Lord. It’s important to know our help comes from the Lord and to get on His page.

We see Joshua doing this also in verse 15. “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

Joshua obeyed. In the small and the big. In the battle and in the bare feet.

To see the walls come down in Jericho Joshua had to obey. In our own lives to see victory in our relationships, in our finances, in our health, in our well being, we need to listen and obey to the strategies God gives us. Sometimes this isn’t easy. Sometimes God will seem straight up crazy.

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“What does my Lord say to His servant?”

We are created to listen. You are hard wired designed to be in connection with God. To hear God speak. He is not a far away God but a God who is near.

 

I am the Shepherd and my sheep know my voice. John 10

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

 

God spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3), Habakkuk knew the sound of God speaking to him (Habakkuk 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12 ). However, I have found that usually, God’s voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.

Cultivating an ability to hear God speak takes time and effort. It’s something we do deliberately, not something we can cultivate on the run.

To cultivate an ability to hear God you’ll need to make intentional deliberate opportunities to listen. Sometimes that may happen here at church, or at home as you’re reading The Word and having some worship time. Sometimes it happens as you’re out driving. There is a particular corner and road that all I have to do is drive down there thinking about a problem and boom, God speaks. I’ve learned to keep a pen and paper in the car!

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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 v14

Joshua bowed down and worshipped Jesus.

Worship is more than singing. It’s about expressing surrender, its about wrapping language about how we feel, its about changing our perception and seeing things from God’s vantage point. The quickest way I know how to knock something down is to worship God. When faced with obstacles, make a choice to get your eyes open and on Jesus and to worship Him.

 

Worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. Rick Warren

 

It reminds us that yes, God is with us.

It reminds us of His greatness and power.

It lifts our eyes beyond our circumstances to believe the unfailing promises of God.

We see it time and time again in the psalms of david.

David is doing what I call compraying. It’s a combination of complaining and praying.

David is being real with God. Calling a spade a spade.

But then instead of staying in that place of woe is me, David flips it around and fixes his eyes upon God, and begins to worship.

There are so many instances in the bible where worship preceded victory.

We have got to be a people who carve out time to encounter God. I know I say it every time I get up here, and all the time at housegroup but it is so vital.

 

There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher

Read the rest of this entry »

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At the very moment that Joshua needed God, God was there. Joshua was surveying the territory he was going to advance into. Having another look over the city he was going to lead an attack against. Imagine the doubts, the fears, the insecurities. The pressure.

At that moment, Joshua had a very real desperate need to hear from God.

And there God is. His personal presence was with Joshua as a mighty declaration and assurance of God’s power and provision.

Theophanies : A Theophany is a manifestation of the preincarnate Christ, who, as the Logos, is the one who reveals God. If only a man or an angel, he would certainly have repelled Joshua’s worshipful response (vs. 14). Other examples of Christology is in Daniel 3 and when Abraham had 3 visitors, one of them a preincarnate Jesus, in Genesis 18.

 

How do we overcome the Jericho in our life?

We lift our eyes and see that Jesus is with us. We fix our eyes upon the One who can help us. We encounter His presence. Read the rest of this entry »

perfectblueeyeswallpaper11655

 

God was on scene before we were. That means the world belongs to Him. He designed everything in creation with a specific purpose. The world not only belongs to Him; He knows the best way for it to operate. He knows the way forward. He knows everything that influences today and tomorrow. He has the blueprints for our life. He is the commander of the army. He calls the shots and gives the orders. He has the battle strategy.

Joshua’s question “are you for us or for against us?” is a bit like how we can see God sometimes. Sometimes He’s on our page, sometimes we can be stamping our foot and going “seriously!” But the reality is we need to be on HIS page. He is God and I am not.

“This is God’s universe and he does things his way. Now, you may have a better way of doing things, but you don’t have a universe.”

It’s the wisest decision to let Him be in complete control. It makes sense that if He is the Commander in Chief that we would not only consult Him in all things but that we would surrender to Him in all things.

God gets you.

He sees you.

He knows your fears and dreams, your flaws and your strengths.

He is not far away but just as He was with Joshua, He is right beside us.

God met Joshua beside Jericho. Jericho represents that thing that is standing between us and the Promised Land. That obstacle looming on the horizon that we wonder how we’ll get past.

What is the Jericho you face? Read the rest of this entry »

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And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

In this passage Joshua is facing one of the tipping point moments, not only in his life, but in the history of the nation of Israel.

We find him by Jericho, perhaps observing the city, planning his strategy, scoping the joint.

I can only imagine how he felt. The walls of Jericho were no ordinary walls but massive fortifications with a series of outer walls and inner walls and ditches between them. In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault – using cool ancient siege weapons or surrounded and the people starved into waving the white flag. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunnelling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking army usually suffered heavy losses. It was not pretty.

And then lifts his eyes… which makes me so think of Psalm 121, I look to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from God, the creator of the heavens and earth.

Of course that was written AFTER Joshua but it so fits.

Joshua lifts his eyes and with eyes open sees a man, sword drawn. Now put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. He’s spying on enemy territory and then a man appears with a drawn sword. I would be freaking out! Is this some Jericho ninja, some champion of the city, the toughest kid on the block, ready to take the commander of the Israel out before the battle even begun?

I have to give Joshua some credit here. He uses courage begins a conversation with the man, assessing perhaps emergency exits or an Achilles heel.

What happens next shows us how we should have our eyes open when facing impossible odds, seeing God in the midst of the battle and moving on into victory.

 

 

*** part one of my preaching notes from Sunday 16th Feb – stay tuned for :::
Eyes Open – To Surrender
Eyes Open – To See
Eyes Open – To Worship
Eyes Open – To Hear
Eyes Open – To Follow
Eyes Open – To Victory

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**** notes from The Best Housegroup In The World with guest speakers Peet & Estelle

 

what makes us successful?

the world would say fame, power, money, status, recognition, = wealth

this is a trap from satan – he lies and says that success = money

 

 

how does GOD see success? 

godly success is the ratio between talents given and talents used

USE your gifts

follow your dream

bloom where you are planted

make a difference

 

1 Kings 2:3 – observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

 

how do i become successful and what does it look like?

  • salvation – be filled with God
  • contentment
  • ability to handle problems
  • peace
  • wisdom
  • joy
  • eternal life

 

where your treasure is there your heart is

 

matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

 

the world spells SUCCESS with W.E.A.L.T.H
but God spells SUCCESS with P.E.O.P.L.E

 

the meaning of life is to find your gift. the purpose of life is to give it away. Pablo Picasso

 

men of success in the bible:

  • joshua / joshua 1:7-8 ‘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. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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. : FOCUS ON HIM
  • david / 1 samuel 18:12-14 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. : GOD WAS WITH HIM
  • joseph / genesis 39:2-4 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. : GOD WAS WITH HIM

 

whatever the circumstances God can make us prosper, be faithful

live for an audience of One

your name doesnt have to be on a billboard but it does have to be written on the palms of His hands (isaiah 49:16) and in the book of life

 

would you rather find your success in the world or in The Word?

 

jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 

 

if it is so simple – we are we struggling?  why do we feel like failures?

  • pride – we think more of ourselves than we should and try to do things in our own power
  • doubt and unbelief – do we really believe its possible?
  • rejection – self and others, we believe a lie because of hurt
  • unforgiveness – unresolved issues with others that take our joy
  • jealousy – unable to celebrate the success of others
  • unrepented sin – builds a wall between us and God

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We live by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7

 

this verse reminds me of another E100 passage – E100:25

Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" He said, "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.  Joshua 5:13-15

 

Joshua lifted his eyes…

sometimes we need to lift our eyes from our circumstances and our feet and our hands (our works) and look UP to God.

we live by faith, not by sight.  some versions say we WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT. 

we lift our eyes not to circumstance or what is before us and weighing us down, we lift our eyes not to discouragement and disappointment but we lift them up to God.  we don’t use our natural sight but we live with our eyes firmly fixed upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith and this is what keeps us putting one foot in front of the other, walking, by faith.

Life is filled with challenges that test our determination and our faith in God.  there are cities to conquer, walls to overthrow, sin to overcome, relationships that are strained, temptation to resist, flaws and shortcomings that threaten to derail us.  we are our own worst enemies, wanting to follow God but wanting to satisfy our flesh.  Yay that we have victory and forgiveness and acceptance and righteousness through Christ Jesus, who calls us to walk the walk and to follow Him in the way we live our lives.  He begins by renewing our hearts, and then from that flows our behaviour.  We are saved by grace, and then we respond with obedience.

 

in my night time reading i have just read a series of psalms that mention lifting our eyes:

Psalm 121:1 A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?

Psalm 123:1 A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:18 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.

Colossians 3:1  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

 

there is just “something” about lifting our eyes, about looking with a different perspective and vantage point. 

 

i will lift my eyes from my i cants, to God’s i can

i will lift my eyes from my limitations, to God’s nothing is impossible

i will lift my eyes from my flaws, to God’s gift of forgiveness and righteousness through Christ

i will lift my eyes from my loneliness, to God’s promise that He is with me

i will lift my eyes from my exhaustion, to God’s invitation to come

i will lift my eyes from my excuses, to God’s encouragement that i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

we walk by faith.

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