Thursday, September 4, 2008

Words of Encouragement

What a beautiful piece of fruit?  Yet, what if you took a bite and it found it was no good? What good is then?  It is true for us today.  What good does it do us to look good, but that no good thing dwell within?  Lord help us to bring forth good fruit.

But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things [a] ; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, [b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD's anger burned against Israel. - Joshua 10:1

The LORD said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.  "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it. - Joshua 10:10-13

Where is God? Among the Consecrated. Let me make a long story short. The first verse of this chapter sets the tone for what is to follow.  The people had been given instructions not to take any of the things that had come from the victory they just won (at the wall of Jericho). 

Some of the things had been set aside as the scripture says.  However as we turn from chapter 6, to this chapter, some of the people did not obey the commandments of God and scripture says that God's anger was against Israel.

So what takes place next is the Israelites go into battle confident they will win because they have won the last battle, however that is not what happens.  They are defeated and Joshua tears his clothes and goes to cry before God.

These next scripture are the answer God gives to him. He ask Joshua why are you down on your face crying for, the people have sinned.  He tells them because of this sin, they cannot stand against their enemy.  God tells him to go and consecrate the people and destroy whatever is for destruction. What happens is the individuals that were guilty were found out and they were destroyed.  They were stone to death as well as their entire families.

In our modern times this seems way to harsh but let us not miss God's message to us today.  Do you know why some of our churches are dead or dying?  There is sin in the camp.  God has given instruction to his people to follow him and some where we have gone our own ways, doing our own things and our greed and self importance has stepped in the way.  And what has taken place is the sin (though it may only be a few) is enough to hinder our worship and our power.

All the Israelites did not sin, yet those that were destroyed in the battle paid the price of the guilty ones.  That is what takes place in a church that refuses to be obedient to God.  The many suffer for the few.  This is something that grieves my heart very much and I pray for it when I see it.

Joshua could not simply sit back and look at the destruction of those he was leading but he had to take action.  He had to call the people together to consecrate themselves and allow the wickedness to be exposed. Joshua had to call the people to come to set themselves aside for the purpose of God's calling (repenting comes to mind).

Often time those in leadership are so afraid of hurting people that we end up covering up their sins and continuing the destruction that sin is causing within the body.  Joshua could not be timid about addressing this sin, because it was affecting all the people. This does not mean you do not atttempt to restore one to the faith, but we cannot allow the sin in the camp to continue otherwise we will see our own destruction. As scripture says, he that has an ear, let him hear.

Today, Lord I earnestly pray that you would help us your people realize that when we come together as a body of believers, we are not an island unto ourselves.  The unrepentant sins in the camp is causing her destruction.  Lord help us to come together to consecrate ourselves as one so that we can see your presence.  For you are in the presence of those that consecrate themselves unto you.