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Let's Revise Our Priorities – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 11, 2024 1:00 am

Let's Revise Our Priorities – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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January 11, 2024 1:00 am

There’s no substitute for a good beginning. No matter the task or opportunity, how we start sets the tone for how we’ll end up. In this message from Joshua 1, Pastor Lutzer shows two of Israel’s false securities which kept them from entering the promised land. What is standing between us and God’s priorities?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. For believers on the racetrack of life, there's no substitute for a good beginning. No matter what the task or opportunity, how we begin sets the tone for how we'll end up. And the series that begins today has one purpose, to get you started right.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, as the world gets more topsy-turvy, it's clear that a lot of people have confused priorities these days.

And you know, Dave, the pressure of the culture is so great that our temptation to confuse our priorities is ever with us. And this series of messages entitled Getting Started Right helps us to understand our priorities and to know how it is that we can endure despite a tremendous amount of opposition. The sermon series is actually based on the book of Joshua. And you remember God gave Joshua the task of continuing what Moses had begun and reminded Joshua that this book of the law will not depart out of your mouth, but you will meditate in it day and night.

Now, as we go through this series of messages, we are going to discover that Joshua had setbacks, he had fears, he sometimes had mutiny in the camp, but through it all, he endured. So glad that you have joined us today even as we talk about getting started right. Well, the future lies before us like a path of driven snow. Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.

It's wonderful, isn't it, to be at the beginning of a new year, to have that new beginning, that new motivation that comes, recognizing that we've not been here before. But I need to ask you a question today and get personal right at the beginning of this message. What is there in your life that needs to change in order for you to become the person that God wants you to be? That's the question.

What are the barriers? What are the barricades, rather, that stand between you and a vibrant relationship with God? What would you like God to do in your life today that will change the way you will act and live forever?

That's the question. What priorities? What priorities need to be changed so that as we anticipate the future, it is with that sense of confidence and that inner character that carries us through times that are good and times that are bad. I do invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the first chapter of the book of Joshua, Joshua chapter 1.

You know that we're beginning a series of messages titled Getting Started Right, Getting Started Right, and today I do speak about priorities. The book of Joshua opens with the Israelites not having done anything really in the last 38 years. They were wandering around in the desert. You know, it is possible to have some kind of activity without making progress, and that certainly was true of them, wasn't it? And it was going to be difficult to get the nation going, and it may not be true of us.

I hope it's not true of us that for 38 years we haven't been doing anything, but we always need to be retreaded, and we always need a new vision. But the people were very satisfied with what had happened because first of all, they had the security of peace, the security of peace. Realize that after they actually began the wanderings, after Kadesh Barnea, not before, they had many battles before, but after Kadesh Barnea, basically they were war-free because nobody else was living there in the desert, and they wanted to continue on because they didn't want to get involved in conflict. So psychologically, it would have been very fine for them if they'd have just stayed where they were rather than being challenged to go in and to take the land. And then there was the security of provision. Just think of it.

For 38 years, they did not have to plant a single garden. They didn't have to work to get food because God was always giving them manna. So I can imagine that many of them were saying in their minds, I'd like to stay right where I am. Someone has said, I'd rather keep my problems than go through the uncomfortable process of change. And that's the way we are.

We would like to keep our problems because we know that to change, my goodness, that means that God begins to deal with us and we need to make things right with others as well as with him, and it may begin a whole series of events that make us feel uncomfortable. So what we want to do is to simply say to ourselves, I'll stay where I am. But God says, Joshua, it's time to move. What is it that God asked Joshua to do? Well, let's pick up the text. Verse 1 of chapter 1.

After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, the son of Nun, who was Moses' aide, Moses, my servant is dead. Now then you and all these people get ready. That's the little phrase I want you to remember. Get ready. Because God is going to do something new among them.

That means that they are going to have to do two things, put away sin, and God will give them specific instructions on how to do that, so that sin is behind them and God is before them and they are going to have to walk in new territory. Get ready. And I say to you personally and I say to you as a church, as we think about the future, get ready. Some of you have heard some of the things that we're going to be doing, but what we will be involved in will be primarily a spiritual enterprise, not just physical, not just monetary, but a spiritual enterprise.

Get ready. Now also, I'm going to continue to read because we'll see that God says three times, in effect, Joshua, get strong. You'll notice, I will give you, verse three, every place where your foot is, where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon and from the great river, the river Euphrates, all the Hittite country to the great sea on the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. And I just can't help but comment on that sense of continuity that God gives. One generation comes, another generation goes. God never runs out of men. God never runs out of women.

God never runs out of resources. God is there. I will be with you. And then he says, verse six, be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you, not to turn to it from the right to the left that you may be successful wherever you go. I shall leave verse eight for later, but notice jumping down to verse nine, be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified.

Do not be discouraged because God will be with you wherever you go. Get up, get ready. And now he's saying, get strong, get strong. Now let's remind ourselves what the Israelites had to do.

They had to take territory away from the enemy. Now you know that it is always easier to defend what is yours than to take away that which belongs to another. By the way, teenagers, young people and all of us. That's why it's so important that we never, we never get started drinking. We never get started doing drugs.

We never get started with pornography. Why? Because it is always easier to defend what we have not given away than it is to take something away that has already been handed to the enemy. I hope that that's clear. You see, once we have, once we have allowed that stronghold in our lives, it is more difficult for us to get rid of it than it would be if we had never been involved in those things. That's why some of us do not find any temptation when it comes to drink or, or drugs.

It's just no temptation at all because we've never been involved in it. And that's the best way to win a battle. Well, in this case, they aren't going to be able to have that luxury. They are going to have to go in and take something away that the enemy thinks is his. And I'll tell you it's going to be a battle. It's going to involve conflict. Now God says, and I read it a moment ago, I will give you every place where you set your foot verse three, but it isn't going to be easy. There's going to be a battle involved. God says, I've given you the land as a gift, but this is one gift for which you shall have to fight.

And there's no contradiction in that. When it comes to the doctrine of salvation, it is a free gift. We simply receive it from the hands of God. But having believed on Christ, we now enter into a battle. And even though God says, I've given you all of the blessings in Jesus Christ to accept them, to inherit them, to enjoy them is a struggle because we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this age.

I believe that God has all kinds of blessings with our name on the title deed. But folks, we need to fight. Did you identify a moment ago that which stands between you and the promised land, that which stands between you and victory?

I want you to know that those barricades will not easily come down. There will be conflict, but God will give you the land. There's going to be conflict. There's going to be time. The entire book of Joshua takes about 13 or 14 years. It didn't mean that they could just walk through the land casually, and suddenly it would all be theirs.

There were at least seven different warring nations that they were going to have to subdue. And it will take faith, faith. There are going to be times when they're going to doubt whether or not God is going to give them all that he promised because they say to themselves, we're not sure whether God's promise really is true. And you and I have been there, have we not? There was a little boy who was standing next to a guard at the Washington Monument. And the story goes that he said to the guard, I would like to buy the Washington Monument. And the guard said to him, well, how much do you have? And the boy pulled out 35 cents. And he said, I've got 35 cents.

And the guard told him two things. First of all, he said that 35 cents is not enough to buy the Washington Monument. In fact, it's not for sale.

But secondly, if you're an American citizen, you already own it. My dear friend, there are many things that God has given to us. He has given us all the promises of God which are yea and amen in Christ. Ephesians says he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.

And if you are a citizen of the kingdom, that is yours. But there's going to be conflict. There's going to be time. There's going to be a need for faith because your faith, my faith, our church's faith will be stretched at times until we think, Lord, we cannot believe anymore. But God will be there and walk with us. So God says to Joshua, get ready, get strong, and get focused. And here I zero in now on verses 8 and 9. Be strong, verse 7. Be courageous, verse 8. Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on a day and night so that you may be careful to do everything in it.

Then you will be prosperous and successful. Now God says this is going to be where you're going to focus is my law. Now remember Joshua only had the book of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. That was his Bible. Joshua didn't have the Psalms. He didn't have the New Testament.

He didn't have the promises of the book of Romans. That's all that he had and God says meditate in this law during the day and during the night and you will be strong and successful. Now I titled this message Getting Your Priorities Straight, but actually I have only one priority that I'm going to emphasize today and that is the word of God in conquering the territory that God wants us to conquer. Those barricades that stand in your way to spiritual growth and maturity and finally to be free in Christ so that you can be what God wants you to be. It's the word of God. In another book which I wrote on seven reasons why you can trust the Bible, I have a quote from Robert Chapman. Just listen carefully regarding the Bible. This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven is opened, the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, test the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure. It is given you in this life, it will be opened at the judgment and be remembered forever.

It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor and condemns all who will trifle with its sacred contents. Now what if I were to sit down and tell you this, make a promise to you, that if you were to give 15 or 20 minutes a day to what I'm going to suggest and you were to seriously do that, that your life at the end of this year would be very different from the beginning of the year, that the barricades that you have identified in your life most probably will have tumbled and finally you will sense that God is bringing together in your life the things that seem to be so strewn in the past. What if I made you that promise? Well, I'm going to make that promise today and I want you to carry out in what I'm going to suggest and then you come back in a year's time and tell me whether or not I over promised.

All right, that's the deal. What do we do? We meditate in the law of God day and night. Now, if Joshua were to meditate in the word of God as you and I do, what would he get in return?

First of all, he would get a clean mind. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way by taking heed thereto according to thy word? Jesus said, now you're clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. The scripture speaks about the washing of water through the word. If we want to be pure in the midst of a generation that has become so sensual and so sinful, it is the word of God that cleanses the mind. It really does clean it.

You say, what is the answer to pollution? It's the word of God that cleanses the mind. It calms the mind.

It calms the mind. Joshua is going to face some very formidable enemies. He's going to face the Hittites and all of the tribes that live there and he's going to have to remain calm. He's going to have to have within himself an island of tranquility in the midst of all this turbulence. Well, the Bible enables us to do that. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. There is that sense, that sense of quiet rest near to the heart of God and then it will direct his mind. The word of God will actually tell him what to do, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein. And then the promise is you will have good success. Same promise made in Psalm 1. He who meditates in the law of God shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season. His leap also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.

Now, my friend, there's a promise that we can hang on to even as we begin this brand new year that if we obey the word of God, if we meditate in it, I love the imagery, we can have an island of peace in the midst of a world in turmoil. I'm so glad for the many of you who support the Ministry of Running to Win and I have to tell you that this week we are hoping for 50 new endurance partners. Endurance partners are those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. I'm holding in my hands a number of letters from people really around the world that tell us about the Ministry of Running to Win and perhaps you've heard me say before that we are actually in 50 different countries by radio.

Now, how can that expansion happen? Only because of partners like you. I like to think of those who become endurance partners as those who are joining the Running to Win family. The amount that you give is entirely your decision. Of course, you need info and you can simply investigate what Moody Media is doing around the world. Go to endurancepartners.org or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-8255 or 1-888-9337. Now, as we begin the new year and you're thinking about where you are going to be giving your gifts, we hope that you will consider the Ministry of Running to Win Moody Media. Once again, I'm going to be giving you that contact info because sometimes I've experienced it myself. The information comes too quickly for me to write it down. So here's what you can do.

Call us at 1-888-218-9337 or go to endurancepartners.org. Thank you for partnering with us and helping us get the gospel of Christ around the world. It's time again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Sometimes the language we use in evangelism is hard to find anywhere in the Bible.

This is Bothering Lionel who asks, I've heard many preachers say, ask Jesus into your heart or ask Jesus into your life. Is this biblical? If so, where is this found in the Bible? If it's not found in the Bible, what should we say instead? Well, good question there because no, it's not found in the Bible. And sometimes when we tell people to accept Jesus into their heart, if you're talking to children, I think that's unwise because children sometimes take it literally.

In fact, I remember a little child asking, well, if Jesus comes into my heart, doesn't he get blood on him? Furthermore, the Bible doesn't talk about asking Jesus into our life. And the reason that the Bible doesn't is because that's not really the essence of salvation.

Now, it's true that people have prayed prayers like that and they've been saved, so I don't want to be too critical. But the best way to explain the gospel, it seems to me, is to explain what Jesus Christ did on the cross and the resurrection and then speak about a transfer of trust. If you look at the gospel of John, for example, the word that is used over and over and over again is believe in, to believe in Jesus.

So I like to speak of a transfer of trust. Then you can talk about Jesus bearing our sin, Jesus being punished for us, taking the judgment that belonged to us, himself doing it. And I think that's a better way to get at the heart of the gospel. Now, you can use the word received, because it does say that in the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 12, as many as received him, and we can use that kind of language.

But the way in which you described it, you're right, it's not found in the Bible, and it might not be the best way to explain the terms of the gospel. Thank you, Lionel, for that very perceptive question. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for answering it. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, more on how crucial it is to meditate in and study the Word of God. It worked for Joshua, and it will help us order our priorities. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-11 02:24:41 / 2024-01-11 02:33:25 / 9

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