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Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
May 23, 2022 11:00 am

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Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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When were you born again?

How long ago was that? To experience everything God has for us. Here's Anne with today's message. You have fun, but do you have joy? You have friends, but do you have fellowship?

You're not at war with anyone, but do you have peace? You're good, but are you godly? You have eternal life, but do you have a living hope? You go to church, but do you worship? You sing hymns and choruses, but do you praise? You believe in God, but do you trust him? You pray, but do you communicate? You read your Bible, but do you hear God's voice? You're blessed, but are you experiencing everything that he has for you?

Do you ever wonder if there is more to the Christian life than what you're experiencing? The theme for our series is from Joshua, and I've entitled it, Experiencing Everything. There's a story of a little boy who heard that the circus was coming to town, and he was so excited. He had never been, and he wanted to go so badly, but he didn't have enough money for a ticket. His parents said that they couldn't afford to send him this year, so the little boy would go, and he would stand before the posters, and he would look at the posters and the pictures of the lions and the tigers and the elephants and the trapeze artists, and he would just long to go. Then the circus was coming this weekend, and time was running out. The day before the circus came to town, he received a letter in the mail, and he opened the letter. It was from his grandmother, and she had included in her letter a ticket to the circus, and he was so excited. The next morning, he got up early, and he put on his best clothes, and he slicked back his hair, and he jumped on his little bicycle and rode into town.

He could see already the people were gathering, so he parked his bike, and he worked his way through the crowd until he came in front of the crowd, and they were all lined up on either side of Main Street. He looked down Main Street, and at the end of Main Street, he saw a big train had pulled in, and the doors of the train were opening, and out came the biggest elephants he had ever seen. They were draped in satin and silk, and they had these men sitting right behind their ears, poking them with sticks and moving them down the street.

He just, whoa, he had never seen anything like that. In back of the elephants came these prancing horses with beautifully dressed girls on their back, doing little dances on the backs of the horses, and they went by. Then came these little dogs, and they were dressed like children. They had suits and clothes and dresses, and they were on their hind legs and doing flips.

In back of the little dogs came cages filled with roaring lions and snarling tigers. Then came a big bear who was walking on his hind feet and would drink a Coca-Cola to anybody who would give him a Coke. In the crowd were these clowns just coming in and going out, and some of them were walking on stilts and some of them riding on these big tricycles. One clown came over to the little boy, and he smiled and grinned in his face and stuck out his hand. The little boy gave him his ticket, and the clown went on down, working the crowd. The little boy was so excited, and he saw them all disappear into this big tent at the end of the street.

He went home, and he told his parents he had never been to anything as exciting as the circus. So he sat down for supper that night, and the little boy was describing it. The dad said, well, what did you think of the trapeze artists?

You know, the ones that fly through the air and they swing and they do flips and they catch each other at the last moment? And he said, I didn't see anything like that. And he said, well, what did you think about the high-wire acrobat who walked across on a tightrope just with a long pole? And he said, well, I didn't see anything like that. And he said, well, what did you think of the tigers who jumped through the hoops of fire? And he said, well, I didn't see anything like that. And the dad said, son, tell me again, what did you see? The little boy described it, and the dad looked at the boy so sadly, and he said, Johnny, you were just watching the circus parade. The circus was in the tent down the street.

You never even got inside the tent. And I think there are many Christians, maybe even the majority of people who are sitting in the church today, who are on the sidelines of the Christian life, and they're watching the parade go by, and they think they've gotten into the real thing, but they're watching other people get answers to prayer, they watch other people study their Bibles and teach it and get something from it, they watch other people leading their friends to Christ, they watch other people with the joy and the peace, and they watch the parade go by and they get close, and it's exciting and they go to church, but they never even enter in to what God wants to give them. And this is wonderfully illustrated for us in the Old Testament by the Israelites. You remember the Israelites when Abraham was living in Ur of the Chaldees and God called Abraham out of Ur to come live a life of faith. And he said, Abraham, if you follow me in a life of faith, I'll give you more descendants than the stars in the sky, I'll give you one descendant through whom the nations of the earth would be blessed, and I will give you the promised land.

And Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and he began following God in a life of faith. And then Abraham passed those promises down to his son Isaac, and Isaac passed those promises to his son Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons, and the promises were received by all 12 sons, but 11 of them sold one of them into slavery. And that one was Joseph, and he went down to Egypt as a slave, and for 13 years he was there enslaved, and then God miraculously elevated him until he was number two under Pharaoh, the prime minister of Egypt.

And God used Joseph in a supernatural way to save not only the world from famine, but his own family who needed food. And he was reunited with his family, and as a result his family, Jacob, his father, and his brothers and their families, moved down to Egypt to live in Egypt during the time of famine. And then when the famine was over, they stayed in Egypt because Joseph had given them the best land he provided for their needs, and they just continued to live in Egypt. And when Joseph died and his brothers died, their families continued to live in Egypt for 400 and some years. They just enjoyed the wonderful, fertile region of the Nile, and they lived in Egypt, and they multiplied and they prospered, and pretty soon they became like a nation within a nation. And there rose up a Pharaoh who didn't remember what Joseph had done for Egypt and didn't know why all of these Israelites were living inside of Egypt, and he was threatened by them.

And he was afraid that they might rise up and overthrow him, and so he put them all into slavery. And the Israelites were enslaved and bondage in Egypt until the day God sent them Moses, the deliverer. And Moses burst on the scene and told Pharaoh he was to let God's people go, and then in a titanic demonstration of God's power, God just poured it out, and in the end Pharaoh let his people go. And they streamed out of Egypt following Moses, and they went through the desert. They came to the Red Sea.

God parted it. He took them through the Red Sea. He took them down to Sinai. He gave them the law, and then he took them to the promised land. He took them to the land that he had promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they refused to go in. They said there are giants there. We know it's a good land, but we're afraid of the giants.

It's too much work, too much responsibility. And they rebelled against God's purpose for them, and so they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. For 40 years they went in circles. They went nowhere with God.

And those Israelites are like a lot of Christians today. When were you delivered, not from bondage to slavery, but bondage to sin? When were you saved? When were you born again? Was it when you were nine or ten in your church? Perhaps it was when you were in college through some youth group. Maybe it was as a young adult as you began having children, and they were asking you questions, and you got serious about God. Maybe it was more in your midlife, and you were just wondering what life was all about. Maybe it's been as an older person. When were you born again?

How long ago was that? And let me ask you. You've left Egypt. You've been saved. But are you still wandering in the wilderness? Are you still going in circles in the Christian life, going nowhere with God, defeated and discouraged, you're on the sidelines watching the parade go by, but you've never entered into everything God wants to give you? It's time to experience everything that God has for you. And if you'll open your Bibles to the book of Joshua chapter 1, our message is the challenge to get ready to experience everything that God has for you. And Joshua discovers there are three ways to get ready.

Three things he has to do. One is to open his ears to God's word. Two, to open his life to God's will.

Thirdly, to open his eyes to God's world. And let's begin in Joshua chapter 1 after these Israelites have been wandering for 40 years, and all of the adult men who left Egypt, who refused to go into the Promised Land, every single one, including Moses, died in the wilderness. They never did experience everything that God had for them. Only two men who came out of Egypt went into the Promised Land. One was Caleb and one was Joshua.

Two men who followed the Lord wholeheartedly. And Joshua now, God is tapping to be Moses' successor. And in verse 1 it says, After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, Son of Nun, Moses is aid. And I want to just stop right there because we're looking that Joshua is getting ready to experience everything that God has for him. The first thing he has to do is open his ears to the word of God. He has to listen when God speaks.

And God is speaking to him at a very inconvenient time in his life. Moses has just died. So I can tell you it was a time of turmoil in Joshua's life. He would be in emotional turmoil because Moses was his friend. Moses had been like his boss. He had worked closely with Moses for 40 years. And so Joshua would be grieving.

He would sense the loss. And I think he was in spiritual turmoil because Moses was also like his pastor or his priest, his mentor. And Moses had died and suddenly Joshua is cut off from that spiritual source of strength, his contact with God. And I think it was a time of practical turmoil also because when a man like Moses dies, there are a lot of decisions that have to be made and there are a lot of arrangements that have to be made. And so Joshua's life was just in turmoil, is yours. You're experiencing emotional turmoil perhaps because of a death also in your family or a friend. Perhaps it's been a divorce or the doctor has diagnosed you with some disease or you're facing an enormous debt. Or maybe you've been cut off from someone who's been your mentor.

Maybe your pastor has just left or maybe there's been some trouble in your church and you're in spiritual turmoil. And what about practical turmoil? Just so many decisions to make, so many things to do. You know, every Christian I run into and talk to is busier than they want to be.

We're all just so busy, busy, busy. And it was a time of turmoil in Joshua's life. It was a time of transition because Moses had died and Joshua knew he was going to be the successor. God had already commissioned him for that position. And yet Joshua was used to being number two.

He was used to being behind the scenes. And now God is saying, Joshua, I want you to change your position. You're going to lead these people and it was a time of change and transition. And are you experiencing a time of transition in your life? Are you changing jobs or changing perhaps churches? Maybe you've moved out of your city actually and you've changed where you live. Maybe you have an empty nest.

Maybe you've experienced some change like that. My point is when you're going through a time of turmoil and transition, you tend to say when God speaks, not now, Lord. You know, I'm too busy. Can't you see I'm upset? Can't you see I've got decisions to make? Can't you see this is a time of change?

I've got to get my life in order. God, I just don't have time to listen. I don't want to listen. I'm afraid you might tell me something to do and you can tell I don't have time to do one more thing, Lord. Joshua opened his ears to God's Word when God spoke at that time of turmoil and transition in his life. And you know sometimes I think God lets us have turmoil and transition.

He's trying to get our attention. Listen up. And I can tell you from experience, if we don't listen up at those times, it may be we'll make a wrong decision, we'll go off in a wrong direction.

Some of those changes will not be according to God's will and we're going to be sorry. We didn't listen when he spoke to us. Whenever he speaks, we need to listen.

What he has to say is very relevant to that turmoil and that transition in your life. So Joshua listened readily when God spoke. He listened reverently when God spoke. After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, I want you to get the drama of this because Joshua had been a slave in the slime pits of Egypt and he had been treated ruthlessly by the taskmasters, oppressed mercilessly for years and years and years.

And then this man Moses had burst on the scene and gone to Pharaoh and said, God says let my people go. God? Who is God? Which God are you talking about?

Pharaoh thought it was a joke. And Joshua was thinking, God now, let's see, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of my fathers, I've heard about him. What kind of God is he? And then he began to see what kind of God he was.

When God sent the blood and the boils and the frogs and the flies and the locust swarms and the hailstorms and the death and the disease and finally the angel of death who came through the land, took the firstborn of everyone. Joshua was saved because he smeared the doorpost of his house with the blood of the lamb. Oh, and he went out with about two million other Israelites when Pharaoh finally said, Pharaoh, the strongest, most powerful man in the whole world finally said to his whole labor force, you can go, good riddance, get out.

Your God is more powerful than I, your God is God. And Joshua was beginning to learn about the power of this God and he goes out of Egypt and he comes to the Red Sea and he's got mountains on one side and the desert on the other and the Red Sea in front and here comes Pharaoh who's changed his mind. And God opens up the Red Sea and Joshua crosses on dry ground and he looks back and he sees the Red Sea fold in and destroy Pharaoh and his army. I mean, Joshua's starting to get impressed.

You know, this is some kind of God. And then they go down to Sinai, top of Mount Sinai is covered with fire and smoke and there's thunder and lightning and earthquake and the people are terrified. They can't even approach the mountain except through a sacrifice. And Moses says, Joshua, I want you to come with me up on the mountain. Joshua goes up on Mount Sinai and he's there on Mount Sinai when Moses receives the law. And they come back down and Moses sets up a temporary tabernacle called a tent of meeting where he would go and meet with God face to face. And Exodus 17 says that Joshua never left the tent of meeting.

He lived in the tent of meeting. He was there and he saw God speaking with Moses face to face. Oh, he knew something of the power of God and the presence of God.

And then the provision of God is God began to feed them with manna every morning and when they complained they wanted meat, he brought them quail and three feet deep. So he had meat for supper that night and their shoes never wore out and their clothes never wore out and he brought water from a rock and he led them in the day with a cloud and at night with a fiery pillar and Joshua knew something about God. But what he knew was through Moses and he had heard him through Moses and most of Joshua's dealings with God had been second hand and now God leans out of heaven and speaks to Joshua.

And you better believe Joshua listened. When you open your Bible, what's your attitude? Do you know that this is God's word?

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses, the God who told Pharaoh to let his people go and he did, the God of Joshua. This is God's word. And do you open it expectantly and reverently listening for the voice of God to speak to you through it. I remember being in Moscow for a school of evangelism for pastors and church leaders before the walls had come down, before communism had broken up. It was quite an experience. There were about 5,000 pastors and church leaders there and I was sitting in the audience listening to a speaker with my son sitting beside me and we stood up to sing a hymn and my son just took his Bible and put it on the floor so he would have room to stand up and sing and the pastor sitting next to him looked at my son and he reached down and he picked up his Bible and he dusted it like this and he kissed it and he handed it to my son.

And you didn't have to speak Russian to know what he was saying. This is God's word and you don't put it on the floor and you don't treat it lightly and you don't let it collect dust. God speaks through his words. When I discovered that God speaks personally, directly to me through his word, it revolutionized my Christian life. I'd been raised in a Christian home. I knew that this was the Bible, God's word. It told me about Jesus, told me how to be saved, told me how to live a Christian life, but I did not know that God speaks personally and directly through his word to me until I was a young adult.

And it was the most exciting discovery I've ever made. It's a little bit like the time I was in a circle with some friends and my parents and my daddy was talking to everybody who was gathered in that circle and I knew he was talking to me because I was standing in the circle and he was talking to everybody in the circle. And then my daddy turned and he looked right at me and he said, and, and then he said something directly to me and I knew my daddy was speaking to me personally and directly. And whenever I open my Bible, I know God is speaking to me because this is God's word and when I read it, he's speaking to me. But there are times when a verse or a phrase or a passage just leaps up off the page and I know God is speaking directly and personally to me.

And when he speaks, listen respectfully and listen readily. I'm praying with all of my heart and I believe, I can almost promise you, that if you'll just open up your ears to God's word, God will speak to you personally and directly through his words. But if you'll just listen, listen readily and listen reverently and listen receptively to what God has to say. And God said to Joshua in verse 2, Moses my servant is dead.

Now then you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I'm about to give to them. And he tells Joshua basically three things. He says, Joshua, you need to be strong in your walk, just your daily walk, just your daily Christian life and you do and I do. We need to be strong in our daily walk of obedience, our daily walk of discipleship.

When I'm back home, I walk about three miles with two friends every morning and we have two rules together or we don't walk. And the two rules are one, we have to walk at the same pace and the other is that we have to walk in the same direction or we don't walk together. And when you're walking in the Christian life, when you're walking with God, the same two rules apply. You walk at God's pace, which is step by step obedience to His Word and you walk in God's direction.

You can't go off in a direction of your own, which means you surrender your will to Him. And so God is saying, Joshua, be strong in your walk. Moses is dead. And I wonder why would He say Moses is dead? You know that's obvious. I mean why is He stating the obvious?

Is He rubbing salt in a wound? And I think He's saying, Joshua, Moses is dead and we're not going to do things the way we were doing things. And I used Moses to get my children out of Egypt into the wilderness, but I'm going to use you, Joshua, to get them out of the wilderness into the Promised Land and Moses is dead. Close the gate.

Close the door on the past. If you lead these people and you're always looking over your shoulder to see how Moses did it and try to lead it like Moses did, wouldn't that have been a disaster? I mean Moses was like a shepherd. He was a lawgiver. Joshua was a warrior.

He was a military general. It would have been disaster had Joshua tried to lead like Moses led. And so God is saying, Joshua, be strong in your walk and before you can really be strong in your walk, you have to close the door on the past. There's a farm called Phillips Farm and when I was growing up, I kept horses at Phillips Farm and would ride before school and after school every day. And there was one thing we all had to do when we went into Phillips Farm. As we left Phillips Farm, we went through a horse pasture and you drove your car through the pasture. Then you came to a fence with a gate in it. You opened the gate and you went through the gate and you had to get out and close the gate very carefully because then you were going to drive through a corn field. And if you didn't close the gate, the horses in back of you would get through the gate and ruin the corn that was in front of you.

You had to close the gate. And you and I, if we're going to be strong in our walk, we have to close the gate on the past. Past memories, past failures, past ways of doing things, past comparisons. What is there in your past? And you keep looking over your shoulder.

Was it a failure? Has it just been that in the past you've been wandering in the wilderness? And you know, the wilderness can be comfortable, very familiar. You know, just going in circles, no big responsibility. Just move when God says move. Go with the flow.

Everybody else is doing it and you have to close the gate on that. Now here's Ann with this final word. Are you thinking, well, that sounds fine for you, Ann, but I'm not so sure. Are you hesitating because you're not sure that shutting the gate on the past is possible or that it's worth it? Are you wondering what you'll get out of it? Let me share what I've gotten out of closing the gate on the past and embracing all God has for me at present and for the future. God has given me deep joy that doesn't depend on my circumstances, peace that passes all understanding and overcomes all misunderstandings, a release from resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness that can mire me down in a vengeful attitude, freedom to love people who have been unlovely, abusive or unkind, an anticipation of the blessings God has for me, confident that they will be greater than anything I could have grabbed for myself, an expectancy that the best is yet to come and the confident hope that one day I will not only shut the gate to the past, but I'll walk through the pearly gates into my heavenly home, gates that have been flung wide open for me by God's Joshua, Jesus, the ultimate savior and deliverer. You and I can't go forward by looking in the rearview mirror. It's time to shut the gate on the past, look ahead and embrace all that God has for you. You've been listening to Living in the Light with Ann Graham Lotz. If you'd like to share today's message, go to where you'll find much to assist you in getting into the Word of God and praying and sharing Christ with others. Join us again here next week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-15 10:47:03 / 2023-04-15 10:57:36 / 11

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