God Fights For Us

Cling to God When You Need Someone Fighting For You in Life's Battles

Ross Sawyers
Nov 19, 2023    54m
When life gets difficult and you feel like you're fighting battles alone, do you know how to cling to God? We all need someone who is for us and fighting for us. In this hopeful sermon, you'll be encouraged that you have a God who fights for you. Learn three biblical ways to respond when God is fighting your battles - cling to Him and His Word, love Him fully, and trust Him completely. Be inspired to cling to God in new ways and find strength, hope, and victory in life's toughest seasons. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:02] What an awesome start to our Thanksgiving week, and the kind of praise that we were able to offer to the Lord today. So thank you for being here and thanks for being a part. And God says for us to worship in spirit and truth, and what a beautiful thing when that's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:16] In 1796, George Washington gave his farewell address, but did not do it in a way that we might think of a farewell address, it was not publicly spoken, rather, it was simply written, and then that's how it was received. My understanding of what happened in 1796 is this, that he was worn out from the burden of the weight of the presidency, he was exhausted already by political factions and the the difficulty that that would bring the enemies that he had. And so he decided not to run for a third term, and he wrote this speech, and it was designed to both inspire and guide future generations. His principal concern throughout his farewell address was the stability of the eight-year-old at the time, Constitution. He was also concerned about geographical sectionalism. He was concerned about political factions. And he was concerned about interference from foreign powers. He counseled against making permanent allegiances with other nations. He urged a common national interest.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:43] If you'd turn in your Bibles to Joshua chapter 23, we'll be in verses 1 through 16, and we find a similar farewell speech from Joshua as he comes to the end of his days. He also is addressing a nation, and in chapter 23, he's addressing the leaders. In chapter 24 he'll address the nation. And he is also concerned not about an eight-year-old constitution, rather, he's concerned about the preservation of a centrality of God Himself and of God's Word among the people. He too is concerned that the things that might fracture that are geographical sectional divides, as well as political divides, as well as interference from other powers. He especially counseled against any kind of allegiance with other nations and their gods. And we find similarities in Washington's farewell speech and in Joshua's farewell speech and also differences.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:59] Before we spend some time hanging out in these 16 verses of chapter 23, I want to take a moment and pause and welcome those who are online. I'm grateful that we gather as a body in person, and then I'm appreciative that we have the opportunity to have people online to be able to engage you might not otherwise be able to. And we've also been able, over the last several months, to be present in different prisons online through an app called Pando. And over the last three years, there have been 289,000 plus prisoners that have said yes to Jesus through these kinds of opportunities. Yeah. I met a young man a few months ago who was in prison in his early 20s, and it was there that God encountered him, and that he came to Christ. And in that three and a half years in prison, he read through the Word multiple times. He immersed himself in God's Word. And I just want to encourage those who are in prison right now that are with us, I would just encourage you to make the most of that time in knowing Jesus, and in knowing His Word, and in knowing Him. And we just want to encourage you and thank you that we could be a small part of what's going on with you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:23] I'm grateful in this Thanksgiving season for strong leaders who endure well and who finish strong. When we look in the scriptures, we see again and again leaders who do not finish strong. We see the same in our culture where those who are faithful, it seems something happens and, in the end, often they no longer finish well. One of the things I've asked you before, and I would continue to ask, is that you would pray for me that whatever number of days that God gives me, that I would finish them, ever faithful to Him, that all of us would. That we'd increasingly grow in our love for God, in our faith in him, and finish well. Joshua is one of those leaders that finish strong and finish well. He took the baton from Moses, who did the same. And Joshua, in this part of his book, is writing to both inspire and to guide the future.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:35] We themed this series The Courageously Following God, and we did that because we wanted God to be the central part of the book of Joshua. It's not so much about Joshua as it is about the God of Joshua, and Joshua in turn, had the courage to follow what God invited and called him into. And he invited it into some hard things and things that required large steps of faith. So in that way, yes, we would want to follow, like Joshua, but God has different things for each of us, and we simply want to have the same courage to follow after and in God's lead.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:28] There's a resounding theme to me that runs through chapter 23, through his farewell address, and it's the idea that God fights for you. And all of us want to know that somebody is fighting for us, that somebody is for us. And there might not be a human in your life that is doing that, but I hope you'll be encouraged today to know that there is a God who is fighting for you and who is for you. So we set ourselves up in verses 1 and 2, and then there are three responses that we see in this to that kind of person who fights for us, to that kind of God who is fighting for us, and we'll get to those responses in just a moment.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:21] Let's set the pace in verses 1 and 2, "Now it came about after many days, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, 2that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in years." In chapter 13, verse 1, in the middle of the conquest of the land, Joshua talks about the same thing, that he's old, and advanced in years. So how old is Joshua at this point? Scholars make an assumption that Joshua was somewhat in the same age range as Caleb. We know from the book of Joshua that Caleb was 85 years old when they started dividing out the land, so if we assume Joshua was somewhere 80-85 years old, in chapter 24, we learn that he died at age 110. So when we enter chapter 23, in this farewell address, it's going to be somewhere in the range of 25 years, give or take, from the time that they first stepped into the land that God had promised them. It had been a long journey, 40 years in the wilderness, years of battles, taking the land, and here he is. And what a beautiful thing in verse 1, "The LORD had given rest to Israel from all their enemies." When we're in conflict, don't you look forward to when there's rest from the conflict and the release that God gives in it? Israel for a change, had rest from all their enemies and were settled.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:18] At the end of Deuteronomy, which is the book right before Joshua, Moses gives a similar farewell speech, and the leadership baton is passed from Moses to Joshua. Joshua has taken the baton, and as we've moved through these chapters of Joshua, we see that he has run his race really well, and now we find another generational shift about to occur, and we'll see how that starts to unfold in the rest of the scriptures. But it's going from Moses to Joshua, and now he's saying, hey, here's what you need to be thinking about. Here's what God is expecting of you as you move into this new generation of leadership and of people that are following as the people of God. There are three things here that are responses, as I said, that God's fighting for you. And again, when someone loves us enough to fight for us, it seems there would be a proper response to that, and Joshua lays out what it is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:20] The first one is this, when God fights for you, we would respond. The way we would respond is to cling to him, cling to him. Verse 3 and following, let's unpack it. In 3 through 5, there's a little bit of a look back, a little bit of reflection, “And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done." Keep in mind that he's talking to the leaders of the nation, multiple leaders that are the officers, the heads, the judges, and so forth. "You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has been fighting for you." He's been fighting for you, you've seen it. When we sing, open the eyes of my heart. God, we want to see you. They did, they saw him, and they saw him do exactly what he said he would do. And he has fought for them, and they've won when they've walked in obedience to him, this is what God has done, they've seen it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:25] And what a beautiful gift, when we realize the, why, that God has given them the land. Yes, he promised it to them. But in Deuteronomy chapter 9, and you just kind of want to take a note and look at it later, verses 5 and 6, God says that the reason he's giving them the land is because of the wickedness of the nations who currently occupy it, and he's removing them. He's giving them centuries to repent and turn to him, and they haven't, and the time has come to remove them. And then he says in verse 6 of Deuteronomy 9, "It's not because you're a righteous people, you're a stubborn people." And what a great word of grace for us today. Because I don't know that we're any less stubborn than Israel was, and yet God in his grace is giving them the land. He's removing the wicked nations, and he's bringing his people, even though they are stubborn people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:37] Verse 4, “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun." And so the nations, he's laid it out for them, and he is giving it to them. He portioned it out, they've got their inheritance now. And then he says, verse 5, "The LORD your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you." God is faithful to his promises, just like he said he would do, he's done it, and you've seen it, you've watched it, and he'll continue to do so. This is what God does; He's a sovereign God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:28] And then there's a response that he's expecting from us. In verses 6 through 8, he says, “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left." Let's pause right there, the response is to be very firm. In First Peter in the New Testament, we're told again and again to stand firm in the Lord, stand firm. Here, he says, be very firm. God is a firm foundation for us, we can find that ability to stand firm in him, and in him alone. And then he says, this is how you do that, by keeping and doing all that. It's written in the book of the Law of Moses. He doesn't say keep and do a portion of what's written in the book of the law. He doesn't say hey when it doesn't quite measure up with your feelings or a current narrative, then just pick and choose the things that you like out of here and do those. Now, he says, be very firm then, hold your ground, keep and do. "Keep and do all that's written in the book of the law." And what we've seen again and again through Joshua is a theme that started in chapter 1, verses 8 and 9, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Again and again, through Joshua, that's the resounding theme to be careful to do according to all that's written in God's Word, to be careful to do it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:21] The psalmist would say the same thing in the very first Psalm, the first three verses, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4The wicked are not so." But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And as we keep God's Word, find our delight in it, and meditate on it, it's rolling through, we'll stand firm and will actually bear out really good fruit in our lives. It's not how do we bear out the fruit, it's how do we root ourselves into the one who will actually produce it? One of the things to pray is if we do not have a delight in the Lord or a delight in His Word, I think the best way we can pray is to ask God to give us a desire for him and a desire for His Word. When we have the desire, the rest starts to flow. So we're asking God for the desires in our hearts to be altered for him, and then we'll treasure and love His Word, it won't be a burden to us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:01] So why does he say do this in verse 6? The reason you're to do this is "So that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left." There is a centrality of God, and he says, we're not to turn to the left, we're not to turn to the right, we stay centered on God. That's where our joy is, that's where our hope is, that's where our life is, it's centered on him. And the way we stay centered on him is to do all that's written in the book of the law; To do it, we need to know it; To know it, we read it, meditate on it, and hide it within.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:39] And he gives a second reason of why were to be in the Word like this, verse 7 "So that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them." He says to them, you're not even to associate with other nations. And you're not even to mention the name of their gods, not even mention it, and you're certainly not to swear an oath by them or serve them. The Scripture, both teaches us and it warns us, and here he's giving a warning. You're not to associate with other nations. So what does this mean? Do I not talk to anybody from another nation? No, the primary concern is the gods of other people, and to not get in that mix. Paul would write in First Corinthians 15:33, he says, "Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” . When we linger and stay in the company of those who are chasing after things other than God, what tends to happen is we start to look like them. And he said, wait a minute, I thought we were supposed to be with people who are far away from God so that we might be the ones who can help lead them to Christ. Absolutely. But the question is what is their motivation in there, and we want to love people unconditionally. But why am I tied up in this group of people, am I loving the things that are different from God about this or my loving them? And you and I both know this, the more we're around somebody or around something, we start to take that on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:01] Now this isn't even a negative example, but just an example. Someone said to me several months ago, they said a new phrase that's running out there is all the things. I tucked it away and I thought, I don't really ever hear anybody say that. I hear it in rampant fashion now. Now, how did we start saying, if you haven't heard it now, you will. You'll pick it up, it'll drive you crazy, maybe it won't. But how did that happen? Simply by association. And all of a sudden, we're saying it, all the things. Like you can say it about anything, it just kind of works, all the things. You can tell I love it. But he says, don't, rather, associate yourself with God and with His Word, and let that be what starts to flow out, let that be what starts to transform, not what everybody else over here is saying. And I'm not saying you're not a Christian if you're saying all the things, but we don't want to follow after anything that's other than God and linger in that space, we want to be guarded that we don't become like it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:20] Timothy Keller's book Counterfeit Gods is an excellent book for thinking about this, he identifies money, sex, and power as the primary gods of our day. So when we're thinking about this, you're thinking, well, they had idols, we don't have wooden and silver and gold idols like they did, but we have money and sex and power as our gods. And a God is anything that is ultimate to us, so bad things can be gods and good things can be gods. When a good thing becomes an ultimate thing, it's become our God. A spouse can be a good thing, but it's not a good thing when that becomes the ultimate thing. A child is a good thing, but not when the child becomes the ultimate thing. Having money can be a good thing, but not when it becomes the ultimate thing. One of the most devastating idols of our day is body image. It's good to take care of ourselves, but when body image becomes an ultimate thing, it becomes a destructive thing. In Psalm 115, the writer of the psalm in verse 8, it says, "Those who make the idols will become like them, everyone who trusts in them." What does that mean? He had been thinking of wooden idols, and they are empty. In anything we make ultimate above God will end up being empty and will be demanding of something that that person or that thing cannot give, and we come up empty. Another way to say it in Keller's book, a guy named de Tocqueville said, it's when we take some incomplete joy of this world and build our entire life around it, that's a god or an idol. What is it that occupies your mind? If you're daydreaming, what is it that runs across your mind? What occupies your time? What occupies your resources? That can start to give us an idea that, in any given moment, someone has said, that our hearts are like idle factories, we have several of them. And at any given moment, one of those idols can take the ultimate spot. And he says, Joshua says, look, don't associate with these nations. He knows what will happen if they continue to be among them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:22] But he says in verse 8, this is why I said the response is to cling to him, "But you're to cling to the Lord your God as you've done to this day." So he's affirming them, they have been clinging to the Lord for a bit, and now they're on a good run in their connection with him. This word cling is one of the strongest words for adhesive, of sticking together. In Genesis chapter 2, verse 24, it's where God establishes marriage and he says, when a man and a woman come together in marriage, they're to join together. And it's an inseparable bond that's formed when the vows are made between husband and wife. It's like a strong adhesive, it's a glue that can't be undone. What God has put together let no man separate, So it's this inseparable bond when we think about between a marriage, a husband and a wife, but it's the Word that God uses for himself and his people. So he's telling them, cling to him, as you've done so far. Cling to the Lord, in unreserved loyalty to him. He gets the ultimate priority, God does. And by the way, everyone benefits when God is ultimate in our lives, our spouse’s benefit, our children benefit, our friendships benefit, everyone benefits when God is the one that we primarily cling to as the ultimate, and then everything else starts to flow. But this word also has it with the idea of soldering. Now, I don't know about you, but when I look at tools, and tools look at me, we look at each other and neither one of us knows what we're supposed to do with one another. But many of you are excellent with tools, and this is why this is a challenge for me to explain soldering because I'm not positive that I know. I did like anyone would do that doesn't know what they're doing, and I googled it, and then I YouTubed it. And so I've done my best to understand, and then someone still helped me out after the first service and let me know that I didn't get it exactly right, but just kind of roll with me because I didn't understand what he said to me, which is the whole problem. But I ultimately understand the idea, and if someone is going to solder something together, they're going to take some kind of a tool and get the end of it really hot with the substance that's been melted on it, and then the temperature has a whole lot to do with whatever the heating needs to be. For example, some might take a wire and solder that to a connection, and once it's soldered to that connection, it is a bond that won't be broken. And it’s that same kind of thing, that's what God has actually done in marriage, he's soldered us together. The way it was explained to me is actually that welding is actually better than soldering, but the Word means solder, so I don't know what to do about that because it's more about a glue than an adhesive. So you can wrestle around with that as well, it is the same idea. And so in the same way that we're soldered together in marriage is the way that God is saying that you're to be soldered to him, that it's a connection that's not to be broken, it's a beautiful picture. So cling to Him, He's fighting for you, so cling to Him and His Word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:24] The second thing, as this speech unfolds, in verses 9 through 13 is to love him. Seems simple, but I want to say this because one, it's what the Scripture says. And two, I'm afraid today that people will too easily say they believe God, or they believe in God, but God's not after just a head belief that he's out there somewhere, God is a God to be loved, so it's a belief that turns and it loves him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:03] Verses 9 and 10 are looking back again, “For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10“One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you." For the Lord your God, he fights for you just as he promised. And God's math is different math, and they saw this again and again. The odds were not always in their favor, and yet it says that one of your men puts to flight a thousand, that's exponential. God's math is exponential in the way it plays out and in the victories that he's secured for his people.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:50] So what do we do in response to God fighting for us in this part of the speech? Verse 11, “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God." He's telling all the leaders of the nation, these valiant fighting men, hey, God fought for you, now you do whatever it takes to love him. I just ask you to believe in Him, believe it, and love Him. Love him and love him in the way he's defined and laid out what love is. C.S. Lewis talks about the different kinds of love, there's a romantic love, there's a sexual love, there's a brotherly kind of love, there's a familial love, and there's a sacrificial kind of love. And when we're faced with this kind of idea, we want to be thinking about, as Lewis said, to reorder our love. So that the ultimate love is the love for God, that he's first loved us. So it's love God, it's the greatest command, Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, that's what Jesus said. And then, out of loving God, love your neighbor. It's love, God, love your neighbor. If we can't love our neighbor, it's actually a love of God problem, it's not a love of neighbor problem. When we love God, his love flows through to even the most difficult of our neighbors.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:35] Well, verse 12 is a bit hard because he said, “If you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know with certainty..." In verse 13, "...that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you." So he says in that clinging part, hey, be careful to do all according to all I've written. You want to do it and keep it, keep the Word. Here it is okay, you're to love God, and he gave a specific example on the clinging to not associate with the gods of the other nations. Here he gives another concrete example, and he says you're not to intermarry with them. This is not about an ethnicity intermarriage, this is about an intermarriage with someone that is following after a different God than the God of Israel, for us, the Christian God. This would be Solomon's downfall, chasing after other gods, and then intermarrying. There are a number of problems that happen there, but this would certainly be one.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:18] When we think about today in Second Corinthians chapter 6, verses 14 and 15, Paul says this, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" It's a warning not to intermarry with someone that is following something different than what you're following, a Christian God. If someone has an unreserved loyalty to God and is clinging to them, and they marry or date someone that is clinging to something other than God, this is how the geometry works. You can start here because there are common things that drew them together, but over time, whatever you're clinging to, you're going to keep going this way if you're clinging to God. And if the person's not clinging to God, they're going to keep going this way, and what happens? You go further and further apart, it's inevitable. If a person is genuinely loyal to God, does it do that if you just say, well, we believe in God and we're going to kind of do our deal, and that's kind of a side thing, sure you can survive that, but if your loyalty is to God and you're soldered to him, and the person you're married to is soldered to something else, it just goes like this. However, if both are soldered to the Lord, then it goes like this and it grows closer and closer over time. There's a unity and a oneness that continues to grow, that flows out of that intimacy and oneness with Christ himself. It's beautiful. So what I would encourage you today, in a dating relationship, if you're dating someone who has a different core belief about who God is, who Christ is, I would look for an exit. If you're married, don't exit, you're soldered together. There are instructions in Scripture of how to live gently, quietly, to live out Christ faithfully, and we've seen again and again spouses come to know Jesus through one spouse that is faithfully following after him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:31] I was with some of our global workers, we had a dinner the other night and one of the guys just got married about a month, a month and a half ago, and he said, it's really interesting. He said, missionaries across the world, it's a 1 to 8 ratio of guys to girls, for every single man that's on the global worker mission field, there's eight women that are out there solo going after it with teams mostly. This is what he said, he goes, if you've got guys that have a heart for the globe, for people to know Christ across the globe. But he said, most guys say, I want to get married first before I go overseas because I don't want to go overseas and not be able to get married. And what this guy said the other night, he goes, doesn't it make sense that if it's a 1 to 8 ratio and the women who have a heart for God's nations to actually go and serve in those countries, if they're there, wouldn't it make sense that you would go ahead and get out on the field, and you'll actually meet somebody that has the same global heart that you have? So doesn't it make sense that we would just find ourselves in settings where there are people that are clinging to the same God I am, so that we might land in relationships that then can be honoring to him in such a way that both are clinging to him? So he says here, this is one way to love God, is in your marriage, and the way you choose to roll. He says, if you choose to do differently, you can know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:23] A few years ago, Lisa and I went to a small town called Uncertain, it's Uncertain, Texas, it's near the border of Louisiana, it's near Lake Caddo. And again, like any good person in 2023, I couldn't remember why it was called Uncertain, so I googled it. Lake Caddo is the only natural lake in the state of Texas, but 180 years ago, the border between the Republic of Texas and the United States of America went through the middle of that lake. They named the town Uncertain because they were uncertain if they were actually a part of the Republic of Texas or were they a part of the United States of America, they weren't sure, so they named the town Uncertain.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:09] This is what I know about God, there is no uncertainty in him about what the borders are and about the way life rolls, none, he's absolutely certain. And if we choose to violate those borders, he says to them, know with certainty that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip." A few years ago, in 2018, I had a two-month sabbatical, and that was probably some of the most gut-wrenching two months of my life because I went back and read all my journals and I started to see a pattern in my life. My mom later said, throw the journals away and don't read those again. But I saw in writing the way I was so destructive in multiple relationships, and there was a term that I didn't understand at the time, I understand it now, I didn't know there was a term for what I did. It's called the fear of man, and the desire is to have the approval of someone else, and you just kind of do whatever you have to do to do it, to have it. The problem for me was, though, I would not talk about things or confront things when they needed to be confronted in a way that would honor God. Instead, I let things build up because I wanted to please, and then I would blow up and just kind of unload a bunch of stuff at once, they had no idea it was coming, it's horrible. But I didn't even know how to categorize, and I wept almost every day of my sabbatical. But I say that to say that in Proverbs 29:25 it says, "The fear of man brings a snare." And often times when we're associated with other gods or other idols, or we're getting mixed up in relationships that are not God-honoring godly relationships, what's happening somewhere in there, at least to consider, is a fear of man. I want their approval, and so I'll do whatever I have to do to get their approval. And that's what God says will happen, it'll be a snare and a trap when we associate and are about things that are not him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:38] There's a third piece here in our response to God fighting for us, and it is to trust him. To trust him. Proverbs 3, 5 through 8. A number of us know the first two verses of this, but there are two more after it, and there's more after that, obviously. But it says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Here's verse 7, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones." Have you ever thought about that by not being wise in our own thinking, but trusting the Lord actually is healing to our bodies to trust him? It's refreshing and healing to trust God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:40] Verse 14, “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you. Not one of them has failed." He's giving them a confidence here that God is faithful in his promises, and he will not fail.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:57] Verse 15 and 16, though, are a little bit of a bummer for the end of a farewell speech that's intended to inspire and guide. He says, “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you." This is God's land, the earth is the Lord's and all it contains; he'll give it, and he will take it away. If you choose not to cling to him, if you choose not to love him, if you choose not to trust him, he can remove as easily as he can give. I was reading this, and when I think about God's promises as a norm, I think, man, that's great, I love God's promises. And I thought, I love the good ones, but God promises things and he promises judgment when we choose to go against what his ways are. He's incredibly patient, but there's a point where he says enough.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:05] In verse 16, “When you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.” Again, in Colossians 1 it says, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ." And what Paul is saying there is we want to teach and we want to warn. We need to understand there are things that we need to be warned about as well as taught. And it's interesting that this is how Joshua wraps up his speech, it's because he sees, I think, because the Word wins in verse 16. He's watched their stuff in the past and he says, when you do this, this is what's going to happen, it's a bit of a bummer.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:01] In Psalm 86, I've been lingering in the Psalms for a few months now, or actually Psalm 81, verses 11 and 12. It says, “But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. 12“So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices. This is what Paul writes in Romans 1 as well, if you want to serve the creature rather than the creator, it's called the passive judgment of God, then you can have your way. If you want to cling to something else, you can cling to something else. God has a long arm of patience, and he also has a long arm to be able to grab back when people are stubborn and go about their own devices. But there appears to be a point in God's patience where he says enough is enough, and he gives us over to what that is. This would be a crummy way to end the message, wouldn't it? But what we know about God, and what we know in the Scripture, is that all of it points to Jesus. And when I look at this speech that Joshua gave to the leaders to both teach, encourage, warn, and admonish, to guide them so that they can have the best in the future. I'm grateful that what God did in the future from here is he entered into this with us through Jesus Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:07] And in a moment, we're going to take the Lord's Supper together. And we're going to do just like Joshua did multiple times in Joshua, and he set up reminders for things that God had done. And the Lord's Supper is a reminder for us of what Jesus has done. And we've seen it, we've seen what he's done. But what we can all know today, in the grace of God, in the midst of our stubborn hearts, in the midst of us chasing after other gods, in the midst of us choosing bad relationship decisions along the way, that in the midst of all of that, that we still have a God fighting for us. And he fought for you and for me at the cross, and it was there that he defeated all the works of the devil, all the sin and shame and condemnation in our lives. He fought, and he defeated it. And on the third day, as we sang just a few minutes ago, God raised Jesus from the dead in victory and in triumph. And all of us can have the same experience today of what God did for us on that cross. No matter what we've done, no matter where we've been, his grace is sufficient for a stubborn and unrighteous people, God wins. For every person that receives Jesus Christ and repents of chasing after other things, making them ultimate, and instead is willing for Jesus to be ultimate; every person that believes that is then brought in and actually held by God. You see, it gets frustrating, doesn't it? Because we don't always cling so well to him, we don't always love him so well, and we don't always trust him that great. But Jesus Christ did it perfectly, perfectly clung to his father, soldered to him, perfectly loved and perfectly trusted. And when we receive, Jesus Christ himself is in us. And as we become more and more like him, the clinging, the loving, and the trusting, he does that through us. If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own son, but delivered him over for us freely, that's good news.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:07] And in John 10, this is what Jesus said, he said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." See God has you held today even when you let go, he has soldered himself to you through Jesus Christ on the cross, he's clinging to you today for those who are his. When we take the Lord's Supper, we're remembering the perfect sacrifice of Christ, we're remembering his broken body and his shed blood when we take the elements. And my prayer today is that it would increase our love for him today as we remember that. In just a moment, I'll give you an opportunity to just have a little bit of silent space, and then we'll have people all across the room, you see them that have the elements to the Lord's Supper, and whenever you're ready, you can go to them, get the elements, and return to your seat, and however, you'd like to take it with someone or by yourself.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:51] But a couple of things to keep in mind, in First Corinthians 11 Paul says to not take this in an unworthy manner. So for Christians, this is a way I know how to say it. I don't know if it's the best way, but it's a way; that if there's any unconfessed sin, that you've embraced that sin and you're just going to do it, you don't care what God says, you're going to be about your thing no matter what he says. I would say that's an unworthy manner today to take it, and maybe it's a moment to be able to come before God and confess that and repent of that today. That's different, though, than fighting against sin. See the person that is embracing the sin really finds themselves fighting against God, but then there's the other side where we all struggle, we have remaining sin in us, and we're fighting it with God's help, that's not an unworthy manner. And then the other thing I would consider today, and by the way, I had a gentleman come out after the first service, he said, thank you for that. He said, I flippantly took the Lord's Supper for years while I was living in sin, until 2019, when God changed me. And he said I had to come back and confess to God and repent before him, how flippant I was in taking the Lord's Supper. But then if a person's not a believer, this would be a reminder of what Christ has done for us, I would encourage you, instead of taking it, to consider, why have you not clung to him and yielded to him?

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:43] Father, thank you for the day, and we're grateful that we can end in reflecting on the fight you made for us to be yours, hard fought and won, and wait till you can walk in victory, so thank you today. I pray, God, you'll work in each of our hearts the way you desire, and that our hearts would be fully yours. And in these moments, I pray we honor you as we remember and reflect on what you did, how it unites us together today, and how it reminds us of that ultimate reunion in the new heavens and the new earth, in Jesus' name.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051