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Peaks and Valleys | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 22, 2023 3:00 am

Peaks and Valleys | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 22, 2023 3:00 am

Pastor Jonathan Laurie delivers an insightful message on the peaks and valleys in the Christian life.


“The Christian life is filled with peaks and valleys, successes and failures, and blessings and trials. Peaks of victory and valleys of discouragement.”

Romans 5:3–5

Deuteronomy 11:11

“Peaks and Valleys”

Joshua 6:27, 7:6

Vulnerable Victories.

Psalm 20:7

Self-reliance and self-confidence will not advance you in the Christian life.

“Yesterday’s homeruns don’t win today’s games.” —Babe Ruth

The Price of Rebellion.

Joshua 7:11–13

Joshua 7:19–21

Joshua 7:25

Joshua 6:18–19

“Our craving, our heart’s desire for things is so strong, it overcomes our conscience. It overcomes our understanding, our reason. Eventually, it will overcome your fear of consequences and even your own sense of self-preservation.” —Tim Keller

God wants us to prosper, but more than that, He wants us to remain dependent on Him.

The Gift of God.

Joshua 8:1–2

Joshua 8:24–25

Matthew 18:9

God is with you!


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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you. If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to

our campuses just now. Father, we thank You for the people that made the decision to just publicly proclaim in front of all of us and all those watching online at our campuses everywhere, Lord, that You are their Savior. They have died to their old nature, died to themselves, and they have come alive again in You, Jesus.

They are new creations washed by Your blood. We are thankful for that, and we celebrate that today. This is a beautiful thing, a beautiful moment in our church, and we are thankful that we get to be here together and worship You because of it. So we ask that You bless this time now as we hear from You through Your Word. We ask that You administer to us and speak to us, Father. It's in Jesus' name we pray together. Amen. Amen. Good morning, everybody. You can have a seat. Good to see you all.

Welcome to Harvest Orange County as well as Harvest Kumalani. Great to be with you guys. We are continuing in our series in the book of Joshua.

If you would like to turn to Joshua chapter 7, that's where we're going to be anchored today. About a month ago, I had the opportunity to go with a friend of mine out to Lake Havasu in Arizona. How many of you have been out to Lake Havasu before?

Yep, it's a nice spot to go to. Pretty hot. It was like 110 for the low.

Just kidding. The low was like 90 in nighttime, and the water was like 85 degrees, and we ended up just taking out our two sons. It was me and my son Christopher and my buddy and his son, and his parents were there as well. And so we went out, and it was pretty cool because my son Christopher, he's never had the opportunity to really go and experience a lake. He's gone to lakes and stuff before, but these guys had all the fun toys. They had jet skis. They had a boat. They had wakeboarding stuff. And so Christopher wanted to try his hand at wakeboarding.

And so he's 11 years old. He's never been towed behind a boat before. And so it's like, okay, we'll see how this goes. I don't know if you've ever gone behind a boat and actually wakeboarded or been towed behind something, but it's a little harder than you might think. Now, as a kid, I had the opportunity to do this, and I figured out how to do it. I was able to get up behind the boat and go back and forth, but I never really advanced beyond that.

And so I was able to pop up, and that's about it. Well, Christopher, he's wanting to give it a shot. And so the first time he goes, he gets behind the boat, and it's a lot of equipment. You've got the life jacket. You've got the wakeboard with the boots on, and then you've got the tow rope. And you've got to make sure the rope has got no slack in it.

And so there's a lot of things to take into consideration. And so Christopher, on the first one, they hit the throttle, and Christopher just goes, boom, over the handlebars. It goes right up over the wakeboard. It's like, oh, man. And so we gave him another shot, and he said he wanted to go again, which is great. So he went again, and everybody's encouraging him on the boat, giving him pointers.

You know how it goes. Everybody's yelling at you, oh, you need to do this. And you're like, dude, just shut up and let me go again, you know? And so we're all yelling at him from the boat. And the second time, we see that he actually, like, he shifts his back foot, and boom, he pops up, and then he goes over. So we're seeing progression now, and everybody's excited because they're seeing, okay, he's really giving it his best effort. He keeps going. In the matter of 24 hours, he went from never having ridden behind a boat before on a wakeboard to the next day, maybe his 10th time getting up on the board. He is able to now stand up, go back and forth behind the boat, and it was so cool because we saw such progression in such a short time. But he fell so many times. He went up over the handlebars. He went over off to the side. He would get up, and then he would allow too much slack in the rope, and then he would get snapped, and then he'd fall over then.

What was key to Christopher's success was his determination, was that he wouldn't give up. So many of us, I've seen it before when people will get towed behind a boat, and they're going, and it's just like, oh, they're embarrassed. And, you know, the whole thing with the boat having to turn back around and come pick you up, and everybody's looking at you with their side eyes.

You're picking them back up. Do you want to go again? Yeah, I want to go again.

You know, okay, I want to have my turn. But he was determined, and he kept going. He had a good support system. He had me.

He had my friend. He had my friend's son who was giving him pointers and telling him what to do, make sure he leaned back and do all this stuff. But it was great because every time Christopher fell, he wanted to keep going. From the first day to the second day, he was able to ride behind that boat pretty much without falling, thanks to the help of my friend's son and all of us kind of coaching him. And it was so cool because we all saw him go from no idea what he was doing to stable and sure-footed and making a big advancement in less than 24 hours and having a lot of fun doing it. And when you're a pastor, and more importantly, and not more importantly, but more so when you're a preacher, everything is an illustration. And so you probably already know where I'm going with this.

What allowed Christopher to learn and to grow was, yes, the support system, and yes, his friends giving him pointers, and yes, everyone being patient. But most people would be like, hey, this was fun. I tried it eight times. I'm not really into this. I don't really like doing this anymore. I'm embarrassed. I'm good.

But thanks anyways. No, the thing that kept Christopher going, the thing that helped him to be successful, was the determination and the unwillingness to accept failure. That is what caused him to get to the place of success.

Now, he's not a professional by any means, but he went from never holding a ski rope to a place where he is now able to enjoy himself and have fun. It's been said that the Christian life is filled with peaks and valleys, successes and failures, blessings and trials, peaks of victory and valleys of discouragement. We know for certain that in the Christian life, there will be discouragement, there will be failure, there will be trials in the Christian life.

Can I get an amen, church? We've experienced this. We know firsthand that there is failure on our end, not from our Father in heaven, but on our end, there are trials that come our way. But it's also true that we cannot experience the highs without also going through the lows. The Apostle Paul put it this way, a man who is no stranger to affliction and suffering. In Romans 3, 5 he says, we can rejoice too when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Everybody today wants hope, right? We all want hope, we all want peace, we all want comforting, but the Bible tells us that hope is the result of suffering. It's the result of suffering, and more importantly, suffering the right way, which results in endurance and character. The bottom line is you cannot have hope without suffering.

You can't have hope without suffering. And so, the last couple of weeks as we've been looking at the book of Joshua, it's been a lot of fun, one of my favorite books in the Bible. We have seen the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people go from glory to glory, from mountaintop experience to mountaintop experience.

Let me give you some of the quick highlights here. We saw in Joshua chapter one that He speaks to Joshua. God speaks to Joshua and reaffirms His covenants with the Hebrew people. That's a pretty cool thing to have God Himself speak to you and reaffirm His promise to you. Yes, I still want to lead you into the promised land. Yes, I am still your God.

Yes, I will still be with you. Okay, that's a mountaintop experience, okay, to know the Lord is still with them. Then we see in the second part of Joshua chapter one that He unites the Hebrew people under Joshua. You see Moses and Aaron, that first generation who led the Hebrew people out of Egypt had now died, and a new leader had to be brought up. Very easily the Hebrew people could have become fractured. Hey, you know what, Joshua, you lead, you know, that tribe, your tribe is fine.

We're going to follow our own leader. No, the Lord unites all of the Hebrew people under one ruler, which we know is not an easy thing, to unite people under one ruler. Next we see in Joshua chapter two that the Hebrew spies are sent out into Jericho to go and give a report back, get some reconnaissance. And while they're there, their lives are spared because of Rahab the harlot, Rahab the prostitute.

And they bring back a favorable report on Jericho. They said their hearts are melted with fear because of us. They've heard about what the Lord did for us when we were leaving Egypt.

So just mountaintop experiences. Then we see in Joshua chapter three that He stops the raging river of the Jordan, and He allows the Hebrew people to walk through it on dry ground into the promised land. Next we see in Joshua chapter five, the commander of the Lord's army personally appears to Joshua. And who is the commander of the Lord's army? We believe this was a Christophany, a theophany, an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ coming and meeting with Joshua. He's the commander of the Lord's army, and He gave him the instructions on how to defeat Jericho. That's a pretty good thing.

You want to talk about good intel? None's going to be better than when you hear it from Jesus Christ Himself. Next we see in Joshua chapter six, we just learned last week what happened to Jericho. They defeated it soundly. They marched around the walls. They shouted. They stomped their feet. They blew trumpets, and the walls came crashing down. I would say these are some mountaintop experience for the Hebrew people, wouldn't you?

God was literally with the children of Israel in a tangible way. Could you imagine how they must have felt at this point? For the last 40 years, they were wandering the wilderness. This was not a mountaintop experience.

This was a wilderness experience. Forty years they wandered in the wilderness, learned difficult lessons of refinement and preparation, and now that it was finally time to show what they had learned, they were crushing it. They felt like they were the only people in the 91 fast track lanes during rush hour traffic while everybody else is sitting in traffic. And the toll system was down, so they didn't get charged the, what is it, $40 during rush hour now?

This is getting out of hand. Or for you over in Maui, you're like, what's the toll road? Don't worry about it. You don't need to know.

For you over in Maui, it'd be like you paddle out at Honolulu and there's nobody out because it was a sneaker swell. And so you were getting set wave after set wave after set wave at the cave, and you're going from glory to glory. You're just stoked, right? This was the experience of the Hebrew people up to this point, from glory to glory. But Moses said somewhat prophetically about the promised land that the Hebrew people would be entering into. He said this way back in Deuteronomy. He said, the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys.

It's a land of hills and valleys. Now I think Moses was referring to the actual topographical landscape, the actual layout of the land physically, but applied to it spiritually as well. And we see here in our text that on the heels of the Israelites' valley, excuse me, the Israelites' victory over Jericho, we see the first of many face plants, spiritually speaking, in the book of Joshua. We are going to see that together in Joshua chapter 6. At the very end, I'm going to read, excuse me, we're going to read Joshua chapter 7, but I'll read one verse from Joshua chapter 6. So turn your Bibles to Joshua chapter 7. We'll start in verse 1, but I'll give you that very last verse of chapter 6 to give you some context.

And I've titled this message, Peaks and Valleys. So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout all the country. Joshua 7 verse 1, but, but, it's never a good thing when the first verse starts with the word, but. But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zara of the tribe of Judah took the accursed things. And so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel. Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Avon on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them saying, go up and spy out the country. So the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Don't worry all the people there for the people of Ai are few. Don't worry about it. We've got this handle.

This is not a big deal. This isn't Jericho, they were saying. And so verse 4, about three thousand men went up from there, went up from the people and, but they ended up fleeing before the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of the Hebrews, for they chased them from the gate as far as Shabarim, and struck them down on the descent. And therefore, the hearts of the people melted and became like water. And then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening.

And he and the elders of Israel, and they put dust on their heads. That brings us to point number one, vulnerable victories. Point number one, vulnerable victories. We see that before Joshua attacked Ai, he surveyed the situation, he sent out spies, and he was planning his strategy. Now this is good basic reconnaissance for any military commander. Joshua himself was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land to go scout out the land forty years earlier to gather intelligence. Now, forty years earlier when those spies went into the land and they came back to Moses and Aaron with their report, Joshua and Caleb gave a glowing report. They said, it's amazing. The things that we're seeing there are remarkable. The food, everything, it's everything that we could ever have hoped for.

But they said, there's also a couple of problems. There's giants in the land, yes, giant men, and there's also some impenetrable fortresses. But they were confident that the Lord would deliver their enemies just as He has promised. They said, we can do this.

The Lord is with us. Let's trust God and go into the land and take what He has promised to us. But the other ten spies that had gone in with Joshua and Caleb had a different report. They were fearful. They said there was no way we could do this on our own, and they were right.

They couldn't do this on their own. They said that they were fearful, and they ultimately convinced all of the Israelites that they would be slaughtered. And so, because of their lack of faith and their disobedience to the Lord's command, He caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years. They did not trust in the Lord who had done miracle after miracle for them while making the short journey from Egypt to Canaan. They did not trust the Lord would fight for them, and they did not trust the Lord that He would provide for them. And ultimately, they disobeyed the Lord's command to go and inhabit the land, and as a result, they suffered tremendously. Now, that's a tough lesson to learn. That's a tough lesson to learn. They disobeyed the Lord. They didn't trust the Lord. He caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

Tough lesson, but an important lesson. And so, now we see on our text today, forty years later, Joshua, the same Joshua, going through a very similar thing, very similar. Joshua is on the heels of a victory, and he hears about A.I. He sends out the spies. They come back.

They say, this is a piece of cake. We thought Jericho was tough. We were concerned about Jericho.

A.I. has way less men. We don't even need to worry about it. Let's send just a small fraction of our army out there. We can handle this one night, no problem, no sweat.

Let's do this. And so, we see, though, that Joshua is making the same mistake the Israelites had made forty years earlier. They're making the same mistake. Instead of looking to the Lord to conquer their enemies, they depended on their own strength. They were looking to their own strength as the source of victory. First, they thought that they couldn't do it on their own, right? They sent out Joshua, Aaron, the twelve spies forty years earlier, going to the land of Canaan. There's no way we could do it.

Okay, you're missing it. The Lord was going to be the one to do it for them, right? And so, now we see forty years later, the Lord just conquered Jericho.

How? Not by the strength of the Israelite army, but by the strength of the Lord's wisdom and giving them the strategy how to conquer Jericho. It was the Lord that did it.

So, first, they couldn't do it on their strength, and now we're seeing them say, we can do it on their strength. Both are right. Both are wrong because they were not looking to the Lord to be their strength.

That's the bottom line. Both were wrong because they did not depend on the Lord. Whether the enemy is big or small, dependence on the Lord is the only path to victory.

Let me say that again. Whether the enemy is big or small in your life, in the Scriptures, dependence on the Lord is the only path to victory. Psalm 20 verse 7 says, some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Amen, church.

This is who we trust in. It was the Lord that brought down the walls of Jericho. It was the Lord that gave them victory. It was the Lord that they had now neglected to consult about attacking AI. Warren Wiersbe, one of my favorite Bible commentators, said in his commentary on Joshua, said this. He said, Joshua and his officers were walking by sight and not by faith. Had Joshua called a prayer meeting before going into AI, the Lord would have informed him that there was sin in the camp, and Joshua could have dealt with it.

This would have saved the lives of thirty-six soldiers and spared Israel a humiliating defeat. Self-reliance and self-confidence will not advance you in the Christian life. Self-reliance and self-advancement and self-confidence will not advance you in the Christian life. Babe Ruth said it this way, yesterday's home runs don't win today's games.

How good is that? Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games. Now, let's think about this practically now. When you first come to Christ and you give your life to Him, usually you're fully dependent on God. I sure hope that you are because one thing that we teach here at Harvest and we see in Scripture is we can't get to heaven on our own, right? Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. We couldn't get to heaven on our own. The price of sin is our blood, is our lives. That's why Jesus came because we couldn't get to heaven on our own.

We couldn't pay for it ourselves. And so, when we first come to Christ, we are fully dependent on God to forgive us of our sins. That is not something anybody but God can do. You recognize your need for Him.

Great. And as you grow in your faith, you maybe see, hey, there's an enemy stronghold in my life. There's an area that I seem to be falling to in temptation and I need victory over this. This could be a giant in the land, spiritually speaking. It could be a giant of pride. It could be a giant of addiction. It could be a giant of anger or depression. It could be a giant of greed or lust or fear.

It could be the giant of unforgiveness. And you are seeing in your life, Lord, I've given my life to You, but I know that this is an area that You do not agree with. Lord, would You help me with it? These are areas that are so embedded in who we are that we can't pry them out on our own no matter how hard we try or how big the crowbar is or how good that plan is. We just don't seem to be able to rid ourselves of this plague of sin, this enemy stronghold. And so, you look to the Lord and you ask Him, God, would You help me?

Would You help me? And you pray and you read the Scriptures and you have faith. And what happens? You begin to see this area in your life that is so deeply entrenched in who you are now begin to crumble. You have faith in God and you seek Him and you're just blown away. You see that desire. You see those personality traits, that behavior begin to fade to the background.

Guess what? You just saw your first spiritual victory. Do you remember what that was like when you first came to Christ? Those areas that you immediately knew, this is not in alignment with you, God. I surrender it to you.

That's what happens. You surrender it to the Lord. You seek His help because you know you can't do it on your own. That's like what the people did with Jericho. They knew they couldn't do it on their own. They sought the Lord and completely contrary to human wisdom, He gave them this wild plan that didn't make sense to anybody, but they trusted the Lord and His path and they did it and they ultimately were able to conquer the walls of Jericho and take over the land and conquer their enemies. And so, in the same way, we look to the Lord and we ask Him for help and we read the Scriptures and what happens? We see the Lord break down the walls of that enemy stronghold. It's amazing. You remember that feeling? You remember that first time that you asked the Lord to defeat that stronghold in your life?

It's amazing. And then as you continue on in your walk with the Lord, you realize that you have this other area that you struggle in. Maybe it's in your mind, it's not as big of a thing. It's a babysit in comparison to that first big thing that you need a deliverance from. Ah, you still cuss a little bit.

Maybe you have a problem with wandering eyes. You lie to your boss about your productivity once in a while and you know it's wrong, but this is an issue that you know you can get under control. This is an issue you know that you can handle, right?

Compared to that other issue, it's much more manageable. I will tell you from personal experience that no matter the size of that sin, you need the Lord to help you conquer it. No matter the size of the sin, big or small, you need the Lord and His wisdom to help you conquer it. Like Joshua, we think we have it under control because we just experienced a large spiritual victory. You think you can take it from here? Cue your first spiritual face plant.

That little white lie that you told to your boss about why you were late has now turned into five lies and conspiracy to murder your coworker because they know the truth, right? Man, what happened? I thought I had this area under control.

What happened? You relied on your own strength, not on the Lord's strength. Like Joshua, we think that we can experience that spiritual victory and we have it under control, but we don't. No matter the size, no matter the type, no matter the duration of the sin we have tolerated in our lives, the only path to victory is by consulting the Lord and by being obedient to His command. Tolerance to sin will bring you down because that sin will not stay small, right?

We think we have these little pet sins, these little things, oh, I've got it under control and I keep him in a little cage and he's in the back room back there. Listen, that sin will not stay small. Whether that leash it's got you on is short or long, you are still on a leash to sin.

Whether that leash that that sin has got you on is short or long, meaning that pull, you feel that pull once in a while, oh man, okay, it's time to pay the piper. Okay, it's time. I got to go and do this thing.

Oh, I got to lie. I'm going to do this. You feel that temptation. You feel that pull, whether that leash is short or long, you are still on a leash and you need the Lord to help you free yourself of it. That brings us to point number two, the price of rebellion, the price of rebellion. Let's read now in Joshua 7 verse 11.

I'm going to skip around a little bit because we've got a lot of texts to go over. And so I'll tell you what verse we jumped to, but we're going to start in verse 11. And so Israel had sinned. This is the Lord speaking, excuse me. The Lord says, Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenants, which I commanded them.

For they have taken some of the accursed things and have both stolen and deceived, and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore, the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because you have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Verse 13, get up, sanctify the people and say, sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel, there is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel.

You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you. Skip down to verse 15. And then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenants of the Lord and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel. Now skip to verse 19. Now Joshua said to Achan, my son, I beg you, the gig is up, give glory to God, the Lord of Israel, and make confession to him and tell me what you have done.

Do not hide it from me. And Achan answered Joshua and said, indeed, I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done. When I saw among the spoils, a beautiful Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and I took them.

And they are hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent with a silver under it. Verse 25, and Joshua said, why have you troubled us Achan? The Lord will trouble you this day. So all Israel stoned him with stones and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

So first let's deal with Achan's sin here. This is a heavy passage that we just read. It's important to note that before the siege of Jericho, the Lord laid out some very important ground rules. The Lord told Joshua and all the people of Israel these specific instructions. We read them in Joshua 6 verses 18 to 19. The Lord says, before they took Jericho, do not take any of the things set apart for destruction. That was everything in Jericho. Or yourselves will be completely destroyed and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel.

There you go. There's the warning, black and white. Don't take anything for yourselves or you yourselves will be completely destroyed and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel.

Everything the Lord says made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into His treasury. Achan heard this strict charge. He knew the consequences for disobedience. He knew firsthand. He heard it.

He knew the strict charge not to touch any of the gold, silver, iron, or bronze inside of Jericho. And what did he do? He did it anyways. This was willful disobedience. This was willful disobedience. Anyone in the military or in law enforcement will tell you that defying a direct order from a superior in the chain of command is called insubordination, insubordination. But what Achan did is actually worse than this. This wasn't just insubordination. It was equivalent to betrayal and defecting to the enemy because he brought death and suffering on his countrymen. He knew the consequences of his actions and he did them anyways, which resulted in the death of about thirty-six men, his wife, his sons, his daughters, his livestock, his tent, and everything he had.

Now this is 2023. This appears to be a little bit harsh, doesn't it? Oh man, this is one of those verses that we kind of just recoil from and we like to paint it as some kind of, oh, this is an analogy. This didn't literally happen. Something we just want to skip on over into the next section.

We don't like coming to these parts of the Bible because they don't seem to align with the teachings Jesus gave in the New Testament about grace and forgiveness and mercy. But here's what we need to know. Achan knew what he'd done. He knew exactly what he had done. He didn't say, oh my gosh, this is something punishable by death. I had no idea.

I'm so sorry. No, he says, you got me. You got me.

You caught me. Achan knew his sin could not only destroy him. He knew that it could destroy his family and even his people. His whole family had to pay the consequences of this evil.

You think that this is crazy. It's like, man, how stupid of a guy could this Achan be? Well, he was stupid, but we see it happen to this very day, don't we?

We see this happen still today as an example. A husband is tempted to have an affair. He gives into it and potentially risks losing everything.

The respect of his wife, the respect of his children, the loss of his testimony to the outside world, everything he is willing to bet that he can get away with this sin. It's not just an affair. It could be that you're stealing from your employer. You know that this could be gravely consequential for your position, for your testimony, for who you are. Or it could be indulging a little too much in that after work drink.

It could be in its infant stage right now. It could be that friendly relationship at the gym with the cute guy that you look forward to each morning that you haven't told your husband about. Or that girl who shares a similar sense of humor that laughs a little too hard at your stupid Instagram videos. Listen, be warned.

God is not mocked whatsoever a man sow that he will also reap. If you sow to these things and you go down this path and you entertain sin and you're allowing that lust to kind of take over and you're thinking about it with your mind and your imagination, oh, what about this? And you're having this fantasy played out, be warned. You are going down a very dangerous and slippery slope that will destroy you and everybody you love in your family.

It'll hurt them deeply. Consider what you are doing. Consider what you are thinking about. We are told Achan saw the gold. He saw these precious elements, but that word for saw can also be translated as beheld. Achan beheld all of the beautiful things, the silver, the gold, the robe. He beheld them. What does it mean to behold something?

It means you really look at it and evaluate it and you look at it from every angle and you kind of take it out for a test drive. And it says that he saw 200 shekels of silver. Now I understand if you like, hey, I was walking along the street and I saw like five quarters on the ground, right? I can count one, two, three, four, five.

I can see that. Maybe eight, like, okay, there's four and four. That's eight. 200? How do you see 200? You don't see 200. You count 200. So Achan goes over and he's counting one, two, three, four.

Wow. 200 pieces of silver. He was walking into a trap. You can't see that many shekels. He had counted them. And then it says he, you know, it was 50 shekels weight worth of gold as well.

Okay. He had obviously weighed this out. He knew exactly what he was working with. The bottom line, this was not an accident.

This was not an accident. Achan brought this on himself and those whom he loved. And when God took the Israelites out of Egypt and moved them into the promised land, he laid down a rule. He laid down a rule. He basically told them, I am not bringing you victory and into the promised land to satisfy your desire for national power or personal wealth. I'm not bringing you into the promised land. I'm not giving you victory over your enemies so you can feel prideful and puffed up about who you are. The spoils of war are not plunder as though you're pirates. These things that you see, they belong to me and they will go towards building me a tabernacle and later a temple, which I will dwell in your midst.

And what God was saying is the victory, the glory, the credit, the honor, the things which we do not deserve and the things which we cannot handle without our pride and ego getting involved, those belong to the Lord. The goal here is not for you to have so much stuff that you become numb to the lust of materialism. It's that you would starve yourself of it.

It's that you would starve yourself of the desires for this world. Our craving, Tim Keller said this, our craving, our heart's desire for things is so strong, it overcomes our conscience. It overcomes our understanding and our reason. Eventually, it will overcome your fear of consequences and even your own sense of self-preservation. Isn't that true? Haven't you seen that people take some small thing and it gets so blown out of proportion, this is a sin that you allow to run rampant. It will overcome your understanding, your reason, and eventually your own sense of self-preservation and you're willing to die for this stupid sin, for this stupid lust of your heart. And so, was God depriving Achan and the Israelites of the gold and the plunder of Jericho because he was selfish?

No, he was not. He was keeping it from them because he knew they were too weak to handle it. And so, it is with us. God does not give us spiritual victory in our lives and prosper us because he wants us to become little gods or self-dependent or proud because of our accomplishments. No, he wants us to prosper. But more than that, he wants us to remain dependent on him. More than he wants us to prosper and be happy and comfortable and relaxed and apathetic in this life, he doesn't.

He wants us to be dependent on him. And I will tell you from firsthand experience, that is the best place you can be. Yes, I can pay for my children's healthcare. Yes, I can pay for a nice meal, you know, out with my wife. Yes, I can have these nice things in life.

But you know what? None of it compares to being dependent on the Lord. That's the best place to be, is remain dependent on the Lord to take care of you and to handle things for you. When you advance beyond that spiritual stronghold, your victory mindset should not be, oh, I'm going to become so intellectual and so attractive spiritually, and I'm going to be so and so perfect and so like God that people will respect me and honor me and all my amazing achievements. No, that should not be our mindset when we are seeking the Lord. It should be, dear God, what have I done to deserve Your hand of blessing in my life?

What have I done to deserve this? Lord, to You goes the blessing. I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together. The Lord's goal is not that we would just become self-sufficient and prideful and full of ourself and arrogant and get people to look at us. Oh, look how great Jonathan is. He's done so much. No, listen, I want to say to you, anything good you see in my life is a result of my dependence on the Lord.

Anything bad for you, you can blame me for sure. Anything good is because of my dependence on the Lord. Magnify the Lord with me and exalt His name together.

That brings us to point number three, the gift of God, the gift of God. Now, we skip down to Joshua chapter 8, and we see the people of Israel going and once again facing their enemies in Ai. Now, the Lord said to Joshua, do not be afraid. Do not be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise.

Go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And verse two, and you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, only its spoil and its cattle. You shall take his booty for yourselves. I love that it uses the word booty in the Bible right there, talking about the plunder, right?

You shall take his booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it. Now, skip down to verse 24. And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai, they were successful in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them. And when they had all fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. And so it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. And so we see a flawless victory on behalf of the Hebrew people. This is not because of the strength of Joshua and his leadership.

This is because of what? Their dependence on the Lord. Their dependence on the Lord, no matter the size of the enemy, big or small, long or short, whatever it might be, illicit or legal, whatever it might be, the sin in your life, the way you conquer it is by being dependent on the Lord. And the only way to defeat enemies and sin and strongholds in your life is like Joshua. We see here complete annihilation. That's the only way to defeat them.

Removing every trace of sin, every source of temptation, and every opportunity to spiritually face plant. So those drugs, don't sell them to your friend. Throw them away. Flush them down the toilet, right? Delete those phone numbers. Take that booze, pour it down the drain. Unplug your internet connection. Snap your phone in half.

Delete your Instagram account, whatever you need to do. Jesus said in Matthew 18, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Oof. Think about that for a second.

Jesus is saying, if your eye is causing you to stumble, rip it out of your head. Take that thing out. How much more should we be willing to go and delete that phone number, change our phone number, get rid of our internet connection if we have to. What? The internet? But that's what I do to waste time. Yeah, exactly. If you really need to, think about how bad your life would be without internet.

Oh my gosh. I was just thinking about this the other day. Would our lives be so much worse if we just didn't have access to internet anymore?

I don't think that it would. Yeah. There'd be a couple of things like, oh man, I can't find that recipe. Okay. Well, go buy a recipe book or whatever.

Oh man, I can't see what the weather forecast is. Go look at the sky. Okay.

It's not that hard. Do what it takes. Remove every opportunity for sin in your life, complete annihilation, and give it to the Lord.

It could be that you are facing a Jericho right now, or it could be that you think you're facing an AI. You thought you would have handled this early on in your life, but here you are in your 50s, still struggling with the same pattern of sin. What do we learn today? No matter the size of the enemy, no matter the size of the enemy stronghold, we need to depend on the Lord to conquer it on our behalf. Seek His name, call upon Him, and most importantly, obey His command. I am thankful that as believers, we can learn from our mistakes and we can get back and we can keep advancing forward.

The spiritual life is filled with peaks and valleys, highs and lows. But know this, just as the commander of the Lord's armies was with the Israelite people, it was Jesus. Jesus is with you today. He is with you. God is with you. He is for you.

And that is if you are a Christian, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you have this hope. You know that you can conquer these enemy strongholds in your life. But I want to tell you today, if you've got an addiction, if you've got going on something in your life that you're not happy about, it could be a problem in your marriage. It could be an issue at work that you're, you know, working through. And man, I've got a problem with stealing. I've got a problem with lying, whatever it might be. I want to tell you, you may not like that thing in your life.

Well, good job. You were saying that it's wrong and it's harming you, but ultimately you are not going to be able to free yourself from that without the Lord's help. And so this is the hope for the believer, that we can be free of sin. He can make us a new creation.

That is not the hope for mankind. That is the hope for the believer. But the good news is that you can have a relationship with God.

The gift of God is eternal life and God wants to bless you, but even more, He wants you to trust and rely upon Him. And so today I extend to you that invitation. Would you like to put your faith in Jesus Christ? Would you like to put your faith and hope and trust in God? Would you like the commander of the Lord's armies of heaven and earth to be able to walk along this life with you and help you and teach you and that you would learn from His ways?

That can be your hope this morning. But more than that, you can have your sin forgiven and have the hope of heaven. If you'd like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, respond to this invitation now as we pray. Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your love for us. We thank You for the principles we read about in Scripture.

Lord, we see from the lessons of the Israelite people in the Promised Land in Canaan that they were not able to defeat these enemies on their own, whether it was big or small, they couldn't do it. But Lord, You have made a way for us to do that, and that is by trusting in You and seeking Your wisdom. Lord, wherever we are at, we know that we need to depend on You to remove these enemy strongholds in our life. We want to advance in the Christian life. We don't want to become static. We don't want to stay still. We don't want to be stagnant in our faith. We want to advance.

So, we need Your help with that. Lord, we thank You for Your love for us. And while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, we're praying here today, there may be some who haven't yet put their faith in Jesus Christ, who don't know that they're going to go to heaven when they die, who are destined to struggle with sin for the rest of their lives without a relationship with God. If that's you and you want to change that and you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and be forgiven of your sin and made into a new creation, wherever you are at, Riverside, Orange County, Harvest Maui, maybe you're watching online, maybe you're watching this at a later time years after this on some YouTube archive, listen, you can pray this prayer right now, mean it in your heart. What matters is you are talking to God and calling out to a Father that loves you and wants to hear from you. Pray this prayer now.

Dear God, I know I'm a sinner, but I know Jesus is the Savior who died on the cross for my sin. And I turn from that sin now, and I turn to You from this moment forward. Lord, I want You to lead me. I want You to help me. I want You to guide me in this life.

Help me to be dependent on You for every area. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen. God bless you that prayed just now. God bless you guys. Amazing.

Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it, just go to And to find out how to know God personally, go to and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-22 04:22:46 / 2023-10-22 04:41:27 / 19

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