In Matthew 15:14, Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind both will end up falling in a pit.” Moses taught Joshua and Joshua knew what to do, but now Joshua would have to go without Moses. Joshua could still be a successful leader without Moses being with him, as long as he followed the way Moses set for him. I have three points to share with you today.
The first one is that God was with him. In Joshua 1, towards the end of verse 5, God said as he was with Moses he will always be with Joshua. Let’s say you just started a new job and have no idea what you’re doing. Your boss is never there and your coworkers don’t know what to do either. The job wouldn’t be a good job and you would be very unsuccessful. Joshua had to remember that God was with him because he had seen all the things that Moses had done when God was with Moses. Just as Moses had done, Joshua could do the same things with God by his side. In Matthew 28:20, just like with Joshua, God promises to be with us.
The second point is that Joshua had to be strong and courageous. According to Webster’s dictionary, courage means the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with firmness and without fear. On your job during the week you go through pain but you know what’s coming at the end of it so you go through anything to get that paycheck. Going back to the first point, God was with Joshua. Joshua should have had no fear because God was with him. Joshua 1:6-7 says “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause these people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” What we need to do is be like Joshua and learn from our parents or even other people in the congregation so that we can not only learn to do what is commanded but what we need to teach others. Joshua was not the only one who needed to be strong and courageous, we all do. Tom staltman is the world’s strongest man. He’s pretty strong but no one can match the strength of Christian’s if we follow God’s word.
The last point is that Joshua had to read the word of God regularly and stick with it. The reason he had to read and memorize the word was so that he could faithfully lead God’s people in the right direction. Joshua 1:7-8 says, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 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 good success.”
If we read the word of God and meditate on it and remember it, we will be very successful in all that we do. I would like to end this point by reading a couple of passages. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.“ And the other passage is Matthew 4:4, where Jesus answered, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
In Joshua 1, I would say the theme is obedience to God and his law. It is mentioned in verse 8 of the chapter that if we make our way prosperous we will be successful in all that we do.
For the past four years I have been going though what I believe to be the toughest battle I have ever had to face in my life with our warrior princess Kiyomie’s medical condition. God blessed me with my greatest desire and greatest fear as a father; which was to have my daughter; and one of my babies getting sick and me not being able to do anything to make them better.
We decided that my wife would come to the United States in October of 2017 after our homeland was devastated by category five Hurricane Maria. It was a difficult but necessary decision because Kerssel was pregnant and the prenatal care she needed wasn’t available post-hurricane. I joined my wife in February of 2018 and we had flights booked to return home in April of 2018. Before traveling I had set up everything in Kiki’s nursery which was also my office where I did my studies; her crib was right next to my desk, I had so many plans for my baby girl and was ready to bring her home.
What we had no idea of is that we were heading right into another hurricane; one of a different nature. Kiki suffered severe brain injury during birth and this changed our entire life: we could not return home, we had to leave my six year old son Éjiké and our families behind in Dominica which ached our hearts daily. The life we knew was basically over. We had our family’s support but were here all alone, in a foreign land with no one close to come help during the toughest period of our life.
We both had to resign from our jobs. We were forced to sell everything we owned in order to survive here, we went from being one hundred percent independent to one hundred percent dependant on others, we had to seek assistance to pay our monthly bills and purchase the most basic of necessities for our children and ourselves– diapers, wipes, deodorant, toothpaste, bath soap and everything else. We were unable to care for ourselves the way we used to, unable to provide for our children, only going to the doctor or dentist if we were very ill, not purchasing new clothing or undergarments even though we desperately needed them.
Through so many sleepless nights, emergency room visits and hospital stays we managed to keep surviving, by the grace of God. It is hard and lonely but we have no choice other than continuing to be resilient and keep focused on Kiki getting better. (We’ve had so many nights that we got little to no sleep that right now we consider a night of 4 hours of sleep a good night rest)
We didn’t think that our life could have gotten any worse but then on August 10th 2020 we got the dreadful news that my wife’s mom had suddenly passed at only 56 years old. From that day our lives was under a dark cloud; well, that’s how it felt. Mom, as we all called her, was our main pillar of support; our greatest cheer leader and prayer warrior; she sent messages every single day to both Kerssel and I telling us how strong we are and great parents we are and that Kiki will be healed and to remain faithful. That day in August took so much away from us, after mom’s passing everyday just felt like we were going through motions, like robots, just floating around under that dark cloud.
Mrs. Dawn Pitcock had been working with Kiki since she was discharged from the NICU. She and her family became a friend and remained in close contact even after Kiki aged out of the First Steps program. She had mentioned her church and asked if we’d like to visit, but we never did then. We were still under this dark cloud. Sometime after mom’s passing Dawn asked whether we would mind if she and elders from her church come by to visit and pray with us.
Russell, Dana and Dawn came one Sunday after service, we conversed for a while, we prayed and we cried; that blessed Sunday afternoon is one I will never forget as it felt like that first ray of sunshine piercing through the dark clouds. We started studying and getting a better understanding of God’s word with the assistance of Russell, Neal and Greg. Our faith started to grow stronger and we began feeling better, our lives felt a little less cloudy day by day. We started attending Sunday service when we were
able to, Kiki’s condition determines whether we can but we kept studying via zoom.
We had discussed baptism a few times but I didn’t feel fully ready until April 6th, 2021, on that day, I called Neal and told him that we were ready. When we got to church building there were several other members of our Leman Avenue family there to support us. Kerssel and I were baptized on that day and man that felt good, it was a new life in every aspect.
Yes we are still going through tribulations. Kiki still has tons of medical complications and has a long way to go. Yes we still seek assistance to cover every single expense that we have. BUT, because our faith in God, and ourselves have grown, our bond with God is getting stronger and our understanding of God’s word and love for us and his purpose for allowing us to go through what we are going through; we are able to better appreciate our situation. God have been right there with us all along, he continues to supply our every need; he has, housed us, fed us, and clothed us physically and spiritually.
In our lives on a daily basis we encounter troubles, problems, adversity; no matter how small or complex they are, they always pose a challenge physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
In these moments we feel weak, we feel defeated and are forced to face problems to great for us to handle; so we turn our attention to God and begin questioning him, WHY? Why am I going through this? Why me? What Lord can I do to solve this problem? During these challenges we are unable to continue our tasks like normal; so we stop, evaluate our situation, ask God for wisdom, obey his word, have faith and trust him to bring the help that we need.
The apostle James had a response to adversity which has helped me through my own troubles.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
When going through these challenging times in life the best resort is to turn to Jesus, I can guarantee without any doubt that no matter what the problem is, you will find guidance to a solution within the word of God. Apply the appropriate scripture, faith and the very best effort you can, to every adversity you face and you will be victorious.
In conclusion I say to you, through every adversity, trial and tribulation seek God for he is always waiting to guide us through our troubles and ultimately draw us closer to him.
Have faith no matter how small it is: Faith in God, faith in yourself, faith that God is greater than your problem, faith that God is helping you through the adversity, faith that you will overcome.
Nurture your faith and watch your faith grow. Mathew 17:20 tells us, “…Because of your lack of faith. I tell all of you with certainty, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
If you can move a mountain with faith the size of a mustard seed, can you imagine the magnitude of power you would possess with faith the size of a tennis ball or basketball or greater?
I’ll close with some words and verses I recite whenever I’m having a moment of weakness during a challenge and the effect that they have on me is miraculous, I recited them right before coming up here; they are:
I believe that God is with me. I believe that God is helping me. I believe that God is guiding me.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Thank you for listening, thank you for being our family when we most needed one, thank you for the support given to my family in every single way.
In Luke 19 we are introduced to a man named Zacchaeus. He is described as “a chief tax collector and rich” in verse two. This man’s encounter with the Savior changed his life, and his example can change ours as well. Zacchaeus shows incredible determination to meet the Lord.
Luke 19:4 says, “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.” Zacchaeus may have been a tax collector and a dishonest man, but there’s no denying that he had determination. He wanted to know who this Messiah was and he would stop at nothing to see him. He found a way to see above the crowd by climbing a tree. A grown man, a tax collector, climbed up a tree and didn’t even care about what others thought. He wanted to see the Savior so he found a way to do it.
What excuses do we use today? I would evangelize, but I’m not good with people.
I would say a prayer or lead a song, but I’m not good at it and there are other people that are better than me. I would read the Bible more, but I just don’t have the time in my busy schedule. We shouldn’t think like this. Instead we should be like Zacchaeus. Have the determination to find a solution. Not making excuses, but doing what needs to be done. Christians would be so strong if we had the determination of Zacchaeus.
Be determined. Determined to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Determined to bear the fruits of the Spirit. Be determined to spread the gospel with the ones we come in contact with.
Zacchaeus was vertically challenged, but he was determined to see Jesus and he did just that.
It’s hard to find a better Scripture to serve as a goal or vision statement than Hebrews 10.24.
“Let’s consider how to provoke one another towards love and good deeds.”
First, notice the verse begins with the key to the beginning of biblical love and good deeds. In a group setting, love and good deeds should be considered together. One person’s dreams and schemes will lack the crucial insight of others.
Second, consideration implies that putting to practice the love and work of God takes some thoughtful planning. In order for our families and church families to experience God’s love, we’ve got to personalize it for them. In order for us to move on from declaring that love to proving it, the action must stem from observational consideration. The proof of love is in a sacrificial point of good deeds.
Third, in order to motivate (provoke or spur) people towards these goals, we must experiment. What gets people excited and moving? What gets your people excited and moving? Since all groups and family units have different needs, the motivation methods should be focused on them. It’s all too easy to formulate a strategy and perfect plan, but we’ll never know of any flaws in that plan until others have had the opportunity to communicate their own thoughts. They have knowledge and insight that one person alone lacks. If after careful consideration and prayerful provoking there still isn’t movement, reexamination might be necessary.
The goal of creating an environment of godly love and work is not a walk in the park, which is why the Hebrew writing records these three steps to success. How much of an impact could we make if we changed, “let’s consider how to spur one another” to “we know what it takes to spur others on.”
In Denver it’s illegal to drive a black car on Sunday.
In Ohio it’s illegal to run out of gas.
In Alabama it’s illegal to drive blindfolded.
In Arizona it’s illegal for a donkey to sleep in a bathtub.
In Hawaii it’s illegal to place a coin inside your ear.
There are several laws that most have never even heard of and there seems to be no shortage of ridiculous laws that definitely have a good story for their origin. The Jews had over six hundred laws and would often debate over which commands and laws were superior over the others. Was there an ultimate law that reigned supreme?
Jesus would echo the words of Moses in Matthew 22.37-40 and according to the Son of God, the ultimate command is a summary of faithful living. So the entirety of our purpose in life can be summed up in this one sentence,
“you shall love the LORD your God with your— everything.”
If you love God with everything; every area of your life will be in submission to His will. Your mental power and your strength must be combined to serve Him in unison, and even Paul recognizes how much easier said than done that concept is. In Mark 12.22 Jesus wraps it all together by linking the heart, soul, and strength together. This trifecta of our being can be tamed with discipline and utilized as a powerful force against evil. This is the key to loving Him with our everything.
It has been a good year for tomatoes in our garden. We’ve eaten them, given them away, and preserved a lot of them. In addition to canning them, Kathy decided to use our dehydrator to save time and space in preserving them. A few days ago, she filled the machine with several rows of sliced tomatoes. She would set the temperature and time, then come back when it was done. The fruit would still be wet and tacky. After this happened a few times, she was concerned that our appliance was malfunctioning. It was then that she noticed she had not pressed the tiny start button on the far right side. She pushed it, and after eight hours she came back to perfectly dehydrated tomatoes. All the prep and planning were futile without the power.
How often do we conduct our lives that way? We meticulously make plans and we do our part to try to make them happen, but we neglect to access the power that makes it all work? Do we ever forget what Paul reminded Philippi, that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13)? Paul also said that while we may have a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, it is “the same God who works all things in all persons” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). We’re told that it is God who will “equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight…” (Heb. 13:21).
How do we hope to do God’s work without God’s help? We need His guidance, His wisdom and instruction, and His help. That necessitates skillfully laboring in His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), leaning on Him in fervent, faithful prayer (Phil. 4:6; 1 Th. 5:17), and relying on His providence in setting our direction (Rom. 8:28). It makes all the difference when we tap into God’s power. Let’s not overlook the one thing that is always essential in everything we undertake!
The fear I’m talking about is not the kind that tells us be cautious or keeps us from harm, it’s the kind that fills our hearts and minds with doubt, apprehension, and anxiety. When this fear keeps us from doing things that please God, things that he expects from us and commands of us, it is a big deal.
When preparing for this I was given the advice that we should speak about things we are familiar with. I say that because fear has kept me for a long time avoiding opportunities such as this. I have never given a devotional before tonight. It is because of that Fear I mentioned. This type of fear convinces us of things that aren’t true. It convinces you that you’re not good enough to get up here and speak. You are not qualified or educated enough to speak to a group of people; you care too much about what people think of you and the things you say. It convinces you that you are terrible at public speaking, you won’t speak well, or say the right things. This is my personal fear, but all of us here tonight deal with fears that keep us from doing what God wants us to do and what pleases him.
A great biblical example of this is:
Moses, in Exodus 3: 8-10 when God called him to go lead Israel out of Egypt and speak to pharaoh.
In vs 11 you can tell he is afraid because he says, “who am I that I should go to pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God is quick to reassure Moses “I will certainly be with you.”
He continues in chapter 4:1 to make excuses to God “what if they will not believe me or listen to my voice” So, God sent miraculous signs to help convince the people.
In 4:10 he basically said I can’t speak “I’m not eloquent, I’m slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So, God reminded him who made man’s tongue, have not I?! He then said He would be his mouth and teach him what to say.
And finally in vs 13 he even asked the Lord to send someone else. We should never get to this point.
We should always look to God, put our faith and trust in the Lord, because fear is not from God. He is a God of love and fear does not have to consume us.
We should always trust in God when we are afraid. If we draw near to God, he will cast out that fear. In Isaiah 41:10, God reassured Israel – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God gave us a spirit NOT OF FEAR, but of power and love and self-control”.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” in Hebrews 13: 5-6
Ultimately, we can’t let fear keep us from doing what God has commanded of us – we are to go into all the world to spread the gospel with everyone. How can we do that if we carry around the burden of Fear.
In closing tonight, I want to ask each of us to think about what gets us out of our comfort zone when it comes to doing the will of God? Is it speaking to someone about Christ? Is it inviting our friends or co workers to come to worship service with us? Maybe having a Bible study with a complete stranger? Perhaps leading a devotional for the first time, or maybe leading singing.
Whatever those things are, we should set aside our fears, put our trust in God, let our hearts be full of Love, not Fear. We should be on fire for God as Jeremy said last week. We as Christians are capable of much more than we realize but how will we ever know those capabilities if we are too afraid to try.
Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say I can do some things….it says I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
How amazing is it that we serve a God that loves us so much, and says he will always be with us, that he will never leave our side. He tells us time and time again we have no reason to be afraid.
(From Travis’ first-ever devotional delivered at Lehman on Wednesday night, 2/16/22)
Henry Adams wrote, “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, and three are hardly possible.” While I do not share his pessimism or cynicism, I do believe that true, close friends are certainly not prevalent. There are too many factors at play. Friendships take time, trust, and transparency. Some things can be barriers to developing close companionship from contrasting values to clashing viewpoints.
The Bible gives insight into factors essential to building true, lasting friendships. Since God made man, He knows what makes us tick and operate at our optimism levels. Here are four quick principles:
A Friend Loves At All Times (Proverbs 17:17).
Solomon does not suggest blind loyalty or blanket endorsement. Scripture does not encourage fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), but it also points out that we all struggle with sin problems (Rom. 3:23). We also are prone to weak moments and we go through trials and reverses of fortune. It is a blessing to know we have people we can count on to be there even when we’re not at our best or enjoying our mountaintop moments (Heb. 12:12-13; Rom. 12:15).
For The Despairing Man, There Should Be Kindness From His Friend (Job 6:14).
For every one we exchange superficial greetings with, even as we are carrying our hidden cares, we need true friends to turn to for help when we face deep needs in our hours of trial. Rare is the friend who knows, sympathizes, and is ready to help with a kind word or deed. You can imagine how Job’s friends added to his despair by failing to offer that when he needed it most. So many things bring despair–job loss, family crisis, financial reverse, health issues, and other life changes. It is then that astute acts of kindness make a lasting impact and forge true friendships.
If They Fall, One Will Lift Up His Fellow (Ecc. 4:10).
Solomon does not specify whether the falling is physical, emotional, or spiritual. No matter what makes us fall, it is the trustworthy response of a friend that he focuses on. How tragic not to have someone in our lives with a ready hand when we are sinking! What if we are falling away from God (Jas. 5:19-20)? What if we are losing faith or overwhelmed (Mat. 14:30)? “The Lord sustains all who fall” (Ps. 145:14), and what a blessing when He does so through a faithful friend!
Faithful Are The Wounds Of A Friend (Prov. 27:6).
We need people in our lives who are more than “yes” men and women. True friends care enough to correct if we are going off course. We need those who don’t just rubber stamp our speech, validate our every action, or automatically take our side. None of that helps us refine our character or makes us fit for the Master’s use. It’s not easy to tell someone we like and care about that they’ve fallen short in some way, but having a friend that deep and genuine is a true blessing in life.
These passages challenge me to ask, “What kind of friend am I to others?” Am I deeper than a fellow sport’s fan, a person with common interests, or even a co-member of the church? Can I be counted on to be there in the valleys as well as the mountaintop days? Can I be trusted with kindness on despairing days? Am I a lifter? Do I have the courage even to say the difficult things in difficult moments? I want to be that kind of friend to my friends!
For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing passages that help me in some way. Our faith is a lifelong work-in- progress. It can be high maintenance. The Bible helps us maintain a healthy faith in any circumstance. It counsels us, convicts us, excites us, scares us, and gives us hope for a perfect future.
I once thought I was the only person who liked ketchup on macaroni. Turns out, there’re like four other people on earth who like it, too. Finding out that we aren’t alone in something is super cool!
Maybe we’ve thought, “Man, I don’t know if other Christians struggle as much as I do.” I’ve used these passages in an article before, but they’re very powerful. We aren’t alone in our struggles!
“So I have learned this rule: when I want to do good, evil is there with me. In my mind I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body. That law makes war against the law that my mind accepts.
That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and that law makes me its prisoner. What a miserable person I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?
I thank God for his salvation through Jesus Christ our lord! So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful self I am a slave to the law of sin.
So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the spirit that brings life made you free” (Rom 7.21-8.2).