THREE BATTLES WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE
If you have tried to master any athletic skill, then you know that follow-through is crucial. Follow through is extremely important in basketball, baseball, football, tennis, racquetball, golf, bowling, along with many others. In fact, you cannot be successful in sports until you have mastered follow through. The principle of follow through is one of the most important principles in life.
Not only is the principle of follow through particularly important in sports, but profoundly imperative in one’s spiritual life. In any endeavor, experience, or enterprise concerning spiritual things, follow through is of the utmost importance.
One of the many lessons we have learned from the recent Iraqi war is that we could have taken care of this global issue more than a decade ago. Often times, human nature tells us that “it will go away” or “someone else will take care of it” or “it will not become any worse than it already is.” We have learned a hard lesson that says, “Do not pick a fight that you are not going to finish.” If a fight is not worth fighting tomorrow is most likely not worth fighting tomorrow. We must chose our fights carefully, taking into account all of the issues.
I t is one thing to begin to apply the principles for victory in the Christina life; but another thing to follow through to complete victory. I am thankful to be able to say that president George W. Bush and enough tenacity to see us through this war.
Centuries ago, the principle of follow through became critically important to the whole nation. Joshua failed to follow through in his leading of the Israelites into full victory. As a result of this failure, disastrous things happened in the future of the entire nation.
And the same lesson is true for us today. If we do not learn to follow through in correcting those areas in our lives, we will experience defeat in the future.
As you may recall, when Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of Israel, that Moses had led the Israelites of Egypt, through the wilderness, up to the brink of Jordan. God would not permit him to enter in because of his disobedience. God allowed him to stand on Mount Nebo to look over.
It is now Joshua’s responsibility to take Israel through the Jordon River and into Canaan. When God commissioned Joshua, He gave Joshua a two-fold plan for the possession of the land (Joshua chapter 1).
God gave him a promise (vv. 2-4) and He gave him the power (v.5). Here is a lesson that we need to learn: “Where there is vision, there is provision.” God was emphasizing that Joshua should take every inch of the land because he has the power to do so. Then, Joshua went into battle after battle defeating the enemies. Joshua almost defeated all of his enemies.
Our text (Joshua 11:16-23) seem to give a glowing account of full victory. It seems as if the Israelites lived happy ever after. But, that is not the end of the story because Joshua failed to follow through all the way to total victory.
And, this is the problem with man Christians. They almost obtain total victory. They almost get victory over all of those problem areas in their life. In this message, we are going to look at Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. Some terrible events happened in these cities because Joshua did not follow through. The classroom of one generation becomes the philosophy of the next generation.
There are three battles that we cannot afford to lose. These three battles become illustrations as what God’s plan and purpose is for our lives. Christians can follow through on their commitments. We can follow through on commitments by learning from the events that took place in these cities years later. The first battle is that:
I. We Learn From The Place Of Defeat (Judges 14-16)
Samson is undoubtedly the strongest man who ever lived. Entire armies would tremble at his sight. One time he picked up a bleached jawbone and slew 1,000 Philistines. On another occasion he walking in a field and a lion attacked him. He ripped the lion in pieces. On another occasion he caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together and set the fields on fire.
Also, in Gaza, Samson ripped the gates of that walled city down. Then, the took the post and iron bars and carried the gates more than 20 miles away—up a mountain. However, it was in Gaza that Samson went from victor to victim; from being an overcomer to becoming overcomed; from hero to zero.
He met his match in the life of Delilah. No doubt you know the story. There were several warnings that preceded his defeat. We must always remember that sin will bind you (Judges 16:21) and will bury you (Judges 16:22-31).
Even though I believe that I will meet Samson in heaven, he failed to master himself while he was endeavoring to master others. Yet, if Joshua had follow through to completely conquer Gaza, and then most likely this story would have never happened. The second battle is that:
II. We Need To Look At The Place Of Defiance (I Sam. 17)
Here is another familiar story to most of us. It is the story of Goliath and David. Goliath was raised in a Gath, a city that Joshua failed to completely conquer during his lifetime.
During Joshua’s day, a small militia could have defeated Gath. However, since Joshua and succeeding generation were content to allow the enemy to live within their boundaries, there came a time when an entire Israelite army cowarded before one man, Goliath. For many years, God had been preparing David for the battle between him and Goliath.
David showed up at the battlefield and began to the nation into victory. Even though people did not believe that he would lead them into victory, God had greater plans in mind. In this chapter, we see the men who engaged in battle, the methods employed in battle and the meaning explained for the battle.
On the one side, Goliath fought with man’s weapons, words and wisdom. On the other side, David fought with dependence, determination, and for deliverance. The third battle is that:
III. We Need To Listen To The Place Of Defilement (I Sam. 4-5:2)
There is one place where God will not work. He will not work in “second place.” At this time Israel wanted what God could do for them, not what they could do for the Lord. They made a false assumption (vv. 3-9). They believed that they could live any way they desired and that God would deliver them. If we want God to give us victory in every area in our lives, then we must have a heart after God. Israel lost their most sacred object, the Ark of the Covenant.
The false assumption led to a fatal affliction (vv. 10-18). This affliction affected Israel’s people (v. 10), provision (v. 11), and priests (vv. 12-18). It has been said time and time again, that sin will take us further than we want to go, cost us more than we want to pay, and will stay longer that we want it to stay.
Then, on the heels of fatal affliction came fierce abomination (4:19-5:2). God’s anointing departs and the ark is defamed. This is the account of the lowest time in Israel’s history. God had called them to change their world but they had chosen to allow their world to change them. The Glory of God departed and someone wrote, “Ichobod.”
Can you imagine what history would have recorded if Joshua had defeated Ashdod? Would Israel have ever lost the Ark of Covenant? What would the world be like today? Joshua never imagined what the outcome would be because he failed to follow through on his commitment to God.
We must always remember that our successes and failures impact others around us for good and bad. Every kick has a kick back!
The law of sowing and reaping applies to all areas of our lives. We are the composite of all the decisions, experience, and thoughts of our lives. As we sow we will reap in every area of our life. It is called the Law of the Land.
Centuries ago, God told Israel to sow and reap for six years, but on the seventh year to leave the land alone. However, the nation of Israel sowed and reaped on the land for 490 years in a row. In essence, on the seventh year, Israel disobeyed God’s command to leave the land alone. Therefore, when you divide 490 by 7, you arrive at 70 times they disobeyed God’s command.
You may say, “What is big deal or the meaning of the 70 times?” When Israel was taken into captivity, they had to spend exactly 70 years outside of the land. God kept them out of the land the same number of years that they had disobeyed God. God’s wheels may move slow, but they moved exceedingly fine.
Are there any areas where you have failed to follow though? Have you made some commitments, but failed to keep them? Don’t you think it is time for you to follow through on all them now?
May we allow the remembrance of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod, motivate us to follow through on our commitments.Back To Blog