Joshua part 4 Crossing the Jordan


Text: Joshua 3

40 years of wandering, setbacks, disobedience, and miracles have culminated in this event. Everything that the Children of Israel knew and did was about to change, the promises that they had heard were finally coming true. We read an interesting note in verse 4; “4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”

At first this statement sounds obvious, while we agree that they had never crossed into the land of Canaan before, hadn’t they previously been wandering for 40 years in places that they had never been before? So with that in mind, it was obvious that where they were about to go would be new and uncharted territory.

But why then did the Holy Spirit inspire the writer to record this sentence for us? But there is great significance in this sentence. Remember that throughout the wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, the people had a pillar of cloud by day and fire at night. We read this in Numbers 9, the cloud would rest on the tent of the tabernacle, and whenever the cloud lifted, the people would break camp and move on, where the cloud stopped, they would camp. For 40 years that was the routine, follow the cloud, the presence of the Lord. But now Moses was dead, and the cloud was no longer with them. Now they were instructed to follow something else, they were to look and follow the Ark of the Covenant. There was a new way of living, a new way of walking in obedience to God.

This is so important for us to note today, the world is a rapidly changing place, and a lot of the traditions that served us well in the past, do not speak to our community and culture the way that they used to. We are living in a society that has rejected God, and thrown all reference to God out of the public arena. We are entering into a new season, none of us have been this way before.

The Ark represented the covenant and promises of God, it was also a testimony to the faithfulness of God, and the people were instructed to follow it in faith. They had to follow in faith. As I mentioned last week, this was springtime and the Barley harvest, the river was in flood and represented an insurmountable obstacle. How were they going to cross the raging river with women, children, young, old, and all their livestock and belongings? Notice Joshua addresses the people with complete faith and courage, he says in verse 5; “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” And then in verse 13; “And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” What a declaration of faith. Joshua was being strong and courageous. He did not waiver or wait to see what would happen, he did not have a “plan b”. It was all or nothing.


Looking at Joshua’s instructions from a logical and realistic approach, he was not being a very responsible leader. But the Bible is full of examples of God telling people to do things that make no sense. Just look at Jesus in John chapter 9, he saw a blind man who was blind from birth. Jesus heals him, but note how he heals him. He spits on the ground, makes some mud and tells the blind man to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Jesus doesn’t follow him, or lead him, the blind man simply goes in faith, does what he is told and he is healed! Paul writing to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 1:20 states; Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

For the uncertain times ahead and the days that lie ahead, we might not always understand and see the reason why God has us doing certain things. We look at the Jordan River and say, well it is too deep, too rough, and we cannot possibly cross. God understands that we cannot cross, but instructs us to walk to the edge and put our feet in the water. Just take that first step, let Him do the miracle.

In everything God asks us to do, there is a very small part that we have to play, and the big miracle that He will accomplish. Our part is obedience.

Today as we look at the world around us, God calls us to take a step in faith, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. For the children of Israel the prospect of the Promised Land was filled with uncertainty and all they knew was that they were going to have to fight many battles for the land.

I want to challenge you to step out in faith, put your foot in the water and see what God will do. We need to have faith as a church; the greatest blessing comes in faithful obedience. All around us we see obstacles, but God knows that these obstacles are merely an avenue for him to be glorified. Do you want to see God glorified? Are you ready to step out in faith? If so, let us commit together to stepping out in faith.

Joshua Part 3 moving into action 8/23/15

Text: Joshua 1:10-18From

We looked in the previous two weeks how Joshua was commissioned and appointed. So how does Joshua respond?  He immediately jumps into action. He begins by giving orders to the officers of the people. Note, Joshua didn’t call a conference and test the popular opinion or form a large committee, no he immediately begins putting things in place and giving direction.

I get the feeling that he had spent the past few years planning and preparing for this moment, the Spirit of God was on him, he knew that the time to act was now, and he did not hesitate.

This is such a great lesson for us, we need to learn to act immediately when the Lord speaks to us and we have clarity of direction.

The longer we delay in doing what God calls us to do, the less likely we are to accomplish the task.

It is that old familiar word, procrastination. When God gives direction, it is because he knows that the time is now to do it. He does not give us a task and then leave it up to us to decide when we want to do it! Saying that you are willing to obey the Lord but then delaying in performing the task is a subtle form of hypocrisy. Procrastination is Satan’s sharpest and finest tool.

Joshua goes on to say in the next verse; “Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”.

What boldness! As we look at this 11th verse of Joshua chapter 1, there are 4 lessons we can learn;

  1. Firstly, the Children of Israel needed to prepare themselves, the journey ahead is going to be hard and strenuous. The lesson for us is clear, if we are going to move in obedience to God and move ahead in faith, we need to be well fed, well nourished (1 Timothy 4:6 ). God supplies our nourishment, he has given us his word, but we need to prepare ourselves, we are all to be students of the word of God. Meditating on the word of God is our source of sustenance for the battle that lies ahead.
  2. Secondly; the very common error and danger that we face is taking a promise from God and then doing nothing about it. God told Joshua and the children of Israel that he was going to give them the land that he had promised to their forefathers. They might have been tempted to sit back and look at the land flowing with milk and honey and say; “well it is a beautiful land and one day the Lord will give it to us. But until that time we will just wait here on the east side of the Jordan River.” No, they had to go in and claim the land, they had to fight for the land. A promise for the land was coupled with obedience to the will of God. The tragedy is that many people simply want to avoid going to hell and don’t really want to go to heaven. So they say a prayer and think that their eternal security is taken care of, that they have their ticket and don’t need to worry about that any more. My friends, the promised land was not meant to be looked at, it was meant to be taken and occupied. We will talk more about this in a few weeks. But the Christian walk is never one of standing still, we are either advancing towards the promises of God or we are retreating. There is no middle ground.
  3. Thirdly we read that Joshua tells the people to make ready because in three days they will cross the Jordan. He didn’t say, in three days we need to make some boats, or build a bridge in order to cross the river. No, he boldly declared; “we are going across the river, get ready!” We also know from Joshua chapter 4 that this took place in the harvest time and the Jordan was at flood stage. It would have made much more sense to everyone if they waited a few months and crossed the river when it was lower. From

But Joshua had faith, he remembered what happened when Moses led them across the red sea, and how the Lord had parted the water so that the Children of Israel could pass on dry ground. Joshua was steadfast, he knew what God told them to do and he set about the task with no delay. Joshua had complete faith in the all powerful God who gave the instructions to him. When God tells you to do something, it is best to immediately take a step in faith, make a stand from which there is no going back. For some that is quitting your job, ending a bad relationship, or maybe it is enrolling in a class and paying the deposit. Whatever it is that God is telling you to do, make a move in faith.

4. And finally we see that Joshua tells the people that in three days they will cross over the Jordan. Remember that Joshua was a type of Christ, his name is the Hebrew translation of Jesus and his life points to the Messiah who would come and who would ultimately be crucified, but in three days he would pass from death to Life and provide a way for the salvation of all who would believe on his name. We have to place our faith and trust in Jesus in order to be saved. Faith in our new life in Christ sees ourselves the way that God sees us, covered by the atoning blood of Jesus. Walking in faith as a Christian, crossing the Jordan in faith allows us to stand in a different land by faith (Romans 6:4). Maybe you haven’t taken that first step yet, you are sitting here today and something deep inside you is stirring. You know that you have not made the life changing decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life. I invite you today to take that step in faith, make Jesus Lord of your life, and begin to claim the land that God has promised to you.

So what are some of the reasons we don’t act immediately in obedience to God?

  • Lack of faith – not believing the promises of God’s word.
  • Lack of courage – fear of man – fear of failure.
  • Lack of obedience – if God tells you to do something, just do it.

Joshua Part 2 – His Commissioning 8/15/15

Text: Joshua 1:1-9


The process of the commissioning of Joshua as the leader of Israel took place in three stages, firstly in Deuteronomy 31:7 & 8 we read that Moses addressed all the people of Israel; he was beginning his farewell to the nation and he commissioned Joshua in front of the nation – this is the commissioning and recognition of man.

But a few verses later, we see a more important and powerful commissioning. God himself calls Moses and Joshua to the tent of meeting and commissioned Joshua as the new leader of the nation.

Thus we see that Moses appointed his successor and the Lord commissioned him and then the most well known commissioning of Joshua is found in Joshua 1:1-9. God once again confirmed and elaborated in the commissioning of Joshua.

At the end of the book of Deuteronomy we read that Moses died and was taken to be with the Lord, after a period of 30 days of mourning the Lord spoke to Joshua and thus commences the beginning of the era of Joshua.

As we read verses 1-9 of Joshua 1, we see the obvious repetition of the phrase “Be strong and Courageous.”

We saw it in the previous commissioning by Moses and we see it three times here in the opening verses of the book of Joshua. We may be tempted to think that the reason God repeats himself is because Joshua was a timid and fearful man. But we know from the previous history that Joshua was far from timid or cowardly. He jumped into the sword battle with the Amalekites and he stood against the ten other spies who gave a negative report on the promised land. There is a reason for each of the three times that God instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous. You see there are different kinds of strength and courage. Many people will display courage when they are put in a situation where there is potential for physical harm, particularly teenage boys! Other people are able to display courage when a moral stand needs to be taken. And few people have the ability to display both types of courage.

One type of courage is displayed on the spur of the moment when the situation calls for it, like jumping into a frozen river to save someone who is drowning. The other type of courage is more measured and requires a thoughtful response to stand against an injustice or speaking up when someone is being treated unfairly.

The first time we see God saying to Joshua to be strong and courageous is in verse 6; “6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

God is calling on Joshua to be strong because there is a long and protracted battle ahead, there will be loss of life and physical danger. It is obvious that there will be courage required as they fight to inherit the land God promised them.

The next time we see the phrase strong and courageous is in verse 7, it is a call for moral courage and standing firm in the face of potential calls for compromise. God is saying to Joshua, stand firm, be brave, hold on to the Law, meditate on it, do not budge or give an inch. This is moral courage, and it is required of us as well, when our family and friends challenge our faith, or even encourage us to compromise.

And then we have the final Strong and Courageous statement in verse 9; Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

This is a different kind of courage, this is the courage that no one sees, it is the courage of the inner man, or spiritual courage. In this life it is easy to get discouraged, all we have to do is watch the evening news. Depression in our society is an epidemic. But you and I have a promise that transcends all the bad news and horrors of society. It is the parting words that Jesus left with us right after he commissioned his disciples and all Christians; “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.

Living a life of faith demands courage. We need to have Moral courage in this day of moral relativism, and we need to have courage in our inner man.

The directions that God gave to Joshua in his commissioning, promising him success are the same instructions we need to follow in our daily lives in order to see the blessings and success that God’s word promises us. We need to fight the Good fight with courage and faith.

Living a life of faith starts with being obedient to the word of God, what is God telling you to do today?  What area of your life is a battleground that requires all your effort just to get through each day? God is saying, have faith and courage in your inner man, but be obedient, do not waiver or give in to the easy path. God’s word is full of promises, we need to meditate on the Bible and apply these promises to our lives.

Stand firm – be strong – and be of good courage, because the Lord our God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua Part 1 – His Preparation 8/9/15


Text:  Exodus 33:7-11


As we begin this series, and we look at the way in which God prepared Joshua, I want to ask you and challenge you; what are you being prepared for? Joshua we are told is the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua is a type of Christ, not only in name, but also in his calling and life.

We see Joshua mentioned in several occasions prior to the crossing of the Jordan, and each one of these has a lesson for us today. The first time we read about Joshua is in Exodus 17; in this fascinating account we read that as the Children of Israel were camping at Rephidim, the Amalekites attacked them. Moses called on a young man named Joshua. He told Joshua to take some men and go out and fight the Amalekites. As the battle ensued, Moses went and stood on top of a hill with the staff of God in his hands, as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites won were winning. As Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur held up his hands and they also put a rock under him to sit on. The battle raged until sunset and in verse 13 we read that; “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword”. But in v14 we read something interesting; “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it.God used the battle, so that he could teach the people and Joshua an important lesson. Joshua learned by this battle that the Lord is the one who fights for him and not himself. Joshua needed to learn this lesson before he would be able to take the Israelites across the Jordan and begin fighting for the Promised Land, because God would fight for them. Notice also that Joshua didn’t complain or try to defer to someone else he did as he was told, and he was obedient.

That is the first character trait we need to learn from Joshua, he was obedient.

The next reference to Joshua is in Numbers 11. The Spirit of God had come on 70 elders, who prophesied, and then there were two elders who stayed back in the camp, who prophesied, and we read about a young man- Joshua; verse 28 says ; “Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” He was zealous for the things of the Lord and didn’t want to see Moses lose control or respect. Joshua was committed, he served without consideration for his own ambitions.

What about us today as Christians, do we serve Jesus because of our own ambitions or plans of making a name for ourselves? We need to serve with one ambition in mind, to make the name of Jesus known.

Then we see Joshua in Exodus 24, Moses is called by God up to the top of Mount Sinai to receive instructions and the Law. We read in verse 13; “Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God” Evidently Joshua did not go the whole way with Moses, but waited on the slopes of the mountain for his master. Joshua patiently waited on his own for 40 days and nights. What a test of his faith and character. We know too that the Israelites were also waiting, and after some time, they began to think Moses had died, so they asked Aaron to make gods for them to worship. We read this in chapter 32. This is when the people gave Aaron all their jewelry and he fashioned a golden calf for them to worship, things quickly got out of hand. But Joshua passed the test – he remained faithful and did not doubt God.

How well do you do when God is silent? Do you look for ways to solve the problem yourself? Do you doubt God? Joshua – the man God uses, is one who trusts in spite of the circumstances and surrounding uncertainty.

Then in the following chapter of Exodus, chapter 33, we see that Moses set up a tent and it became a prayer room, people could come to the tent and ask the Lord when they had situations or concerns in their lives. When Moses came to the tent of meeting, the pillar of cloud would come down and God would speak to Moses. In the 11th verse we read a key note on Joshua; “Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. “Joshua spent time with the Lord in prayer, he stayed in the tent of meeting. He was being prepared by God. It is absolutely vital for us as Christians to develop our own habit of spending time with God. Find your own tent of meeting, spend time with God. It will revolutionize your life.

The next time we see Joshua mentioned is in Numbers 13, when the Lord told Moses to send 12 spies into Canaan to spy out the land that He was going to give to them. The 12 spies were leaders from each of the 12 tribes including a man by the name of Hoshea son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim. We go on to read in verse 16 of Numbers 13 that Hoshea’s name was changed to Joshua by Moses. This is significant. Hoshea means; “the one who saves” and Moses changed his name to Joshua meaning; “the Lord Saves” or the Lord our salvation – hence the name Jesus which is the Greek form of Joshua. Moses changing his name was putting a new identity on him, making it clear to all who called him by this name that the strength of Joshua was not in himself, but in the Lord.

We know the story; the spies went out and came back after 40 days with news of a wonderful land filled with terrible giants. All but two of the spies came back with tales of an impossible task, but then we have Joshua and Caleb, men who agreed that there were giants, but with God’s help the land can be taken. That is Faith!

When you look to the future do you fear the giants? The giants of the unknown, the lack of finances, lack of resources. Sure they may all be there but if the Lord has given you the land, you dare not say that it is impossible.

Joshua displayed courage, here he was from a lesser tribe, standing against 10 other leaders and saying that they were wrong. Joshua was a man of courage.

So we see in this brief look at the preparation of Joshua, five characteristics of this great man of God.

  1. Obedience – as he took up the sword and defeated the Amalekites, he did not question or doubt.
  2. Selfless – as he served Moses and made sure that Moses was protected when the Elders began prophesying in the camp.
  3. Faith – when Moses was gone up the mountain for 40 days, Joshua waited in faith and did not sin.
  4. Prayer – Joshua was always in the tent of meeting – praying and developing a relationship with God.
  5. Courage – Joshua stood against the popular opinion of the other spies

But this is not just a story of a man who lived thousands of years ago the principles apply to us in the 21st century. What is God preparing you for? You are never too old or too young to be used by God. He is preparing you today for tomorrow.

The characteristics that Joshua displayed need to become the characteristics of our lives.

But these 5 characteristics are impossible to do in your own strength there is something that needs to take place first; you need a name change. Joshua had a name changed, before he was commissioned and put to work. You need to be born again. When you say yes to Jesus and make him the Lord of your life, you get a new name, a seal, a deposit – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables you to walk out these 5 characteristics that we see in the life of Joshua, and we see in the lives of many other people who have taken the words of Jesus Seriously.

So what is God calling you to do? What is he preparing you for tomorrow? The church, needs Joshua’s; people of courage and faith who will lead fellow Christians into the future.


What Happens Next Part 3 The Judgment


Revelation 20:11-15


So we have two places, two eternal destinies. Everyone who is alive today and everyone who has ever lived will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell.

I want to briefly look at the judgment day, the time assigned by God where everyone is judged and their eternal destinies are assigned.

But you may say, well- that is a long way off, it doesn’t really apply to my day to day reality. I want to try to give you some thoughts on why the final judgment does affect the way in which you live today and how you will plan to live tomorrow.

Revelation 20:11 is also called the Great White Throne Judgment.  In this chapter we read about Jesus coming again and ruling for a thousand years while Satan is locked away. After that time, Satan is released for a short time before the final and great battle between God and Satan along with his armies of people who he deceived.

God decisively defeats Satan in this Battle and after that the final judgment follows, where Jesus himself sits on the throne and judges everyone both believers and unbelievers. (2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 10:42)

We read that unbelievers and believers will both be judged. Remember Matthew 25 and Jesus’ teaching on the sheep and the goats and that he would separate; one to eternal punishment and the sheep to eternal blessing of the presence of God. So the question is; why a judgment? Why not just send each person to where they are going to go? Why does Jesus need to judge both believers and unbelievers individually?

Judgment of sinners

So it is clear that unbelievers will stand before Christ. (Romans 2:5-6) It is also evident in the Scriptures that there will be degrees of punishment for unbelievers and likewise degrees of rewards for believers. (Rev 20:12; Luke 12:47&48 and Luke 20:47)

Jesus implies that there will be degrees of punishment and this appeals to our innate sense of Justice. Every thought, deed and word spoken will be brought to light, on the day of Judgment the secrets of people’s hearts will be made public (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Judgment of saints

This makes sense to us that the unbelievers will be judged, but what about the believers? They will also be judged. (Romans 14:10 & 2 Corinthians 5:10);

This is the judgment of all who have made Jesus Christ Lord and savior of their lives; this is the judgment of all true believers. But here is the good news; it is not a judgment of condemnation or punishment, because we know that the blood of Jesus has washed away all our sins and as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1.

So what is this judgment about?

The Bible tells us that believers will receive rewards for their work and faithfulness here on the earth. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6 to store up for themselves treasures in heaven. (Also see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

So it is clear that we will receive different rewards for how we live our lives as Christians here today.

We need to be aware of the fact that the Bible teaches that there will be different rewards in heaven not so that we will enter into some kind of competition with each other, but rather that we would encourage one another and spur one another on in our Christian walk. God has infinite capacity to reward us. There is not a limited amount of blessings to be given out, or a “salary cap” on the rewards from God. No my friends we should all be encouraging one another as the writer to the Hebrews states in Hebrews 10:24-25.

I want to make one thing absolutely clear; this is not a salvation by works. We are saved because of our faith in Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross. Rather, this is what it means to live the Christian life. We are all called to do certain things by God, whether big or small, our eternal reward is not based on the size or measurable success of our work, but rather on our faithfulness to do what God calls us to do.

I think we are going to be startled on the Day of Judgment; we simply cannot use the measures of man to understand the judgment of God.

The question remains, why is there going to be a judgment? Why not simply send the unbelievers to hell and the believers to Heaven? Because, the final judgment will be public for all to see, it will be a declaration of the Glory of God which, on the one hand we will see his holiness and righteousness and on the other hand we will see his grace and mercy.

The scriptures tell us that God is completely just and that no one will be able to complain his judgments. God does not show partiality, he will weigh up the thoughts and intents of every man, because God is all knowing. The Bible says that on that Day, every mouth will be stopped. Can you imagine a more perfect judge? He knows all things, knows all thought and is absolutely pure and holy in every respect. He will judge perfectly.

But as we look at the coming judgment there are also applications for us today.

Firstly – our desire for justice. We will see the end of God’s plan for mankind and the righting of the injustices that we see and hear all around us. We see in verse 12 of our text, that the books will be opened and all the deeds of all of humanity are recorded. This may be symbolic or literal, but the truth is that a record is being kept of every deed and ultimately all accounts will be settled and all wrongs made right.

Secondly – As we view the doctrine of a final judgment day it enables us to forgive others. We quickly realize that it is not up to us to take revenge, which is the realm of God. (Romans 12:19) My friends this is a wonderful promise that is incredibly freeing. We must be careful to let things go, not to harbor grudges and grievances. We can be assured that God will set things right on that day, and he will judge perfectly.

Thirdly – the doctrine of a final judgment should be a strong motivation for making good choices in life. It should serve as an incentive to strive for those eternal rewards. This is not selfish, Jesus told us to do this. (Matthew 6:20)

Finally the doctrine of a final judgment must produce in us a motive to tell others about Jesus Christ and the Gospel message. The decisions that we make today affects our eternal destiny. Jesus left us the commission to go and tell, we need to be motivated by the fact that so many people are going to a certain eternity in hell.

So as I wrap up this sermon and this series, where do we stand? The 21st century in the western culture has become a source of unending distractions and entertainment. We are so busy trying to make more money, or trying to get that promotion, or sadly – to make sure we don’t miss that episode of our favorite TV show. We focus on movies, food, sport, hobbies, while all the time our perspective of eternity is being whittled away and we seldom think of the fact that our lives are so very brief.

Let us wake up! Wake up those around us. Live your life in the light of eternity – but what does that mean?

Every pleasure you could have here on earth ultimately passes away, it is fleeting, but if we live for eternity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we will experience pleasure that is lasting, eternally lasting and absolutely unshakeable.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

C.T. Studd

What Happens Next? Part 2 Hell

Matthew 25:31-46

From www.untilallarereached.comThe doctrine of hell seems to be outmoded in these days, we don’t like to talk about it , and contrary to a few decades ago where it was preached regularly and taught clearly, today it seems to be viewed as old fashioned and irrelevant. Part of the problem I believe, is that in the past 20 years or so the evangelical world has focused so much on the love of God, which is a primary characteristic of his nature, that we find tension when we wish to discuss the judgment of God and eternal consequence for sin.

But the doctrine of eternal punishment is clearly taught in scripture. In fact Jesus spoke more about Hell than he did about Heaven. Matthew 8:12; Matthew 25; Mark 9:48; Matthew 22:13; Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 13 are some examples of Jesus’ teachings on Hell.

This is not an easy subject and it is weighty, we need to grasp what the Bible says about hell, and if we do, it will change the way in which we view the world around us. Unfortunately we are in a church age where preachers are reluctant to talk about this, because it is going to offend someone or our own innate sense of justice, as flawed as that is, seems to go against the truths of the scriptures.

The descriptions that Jesus uses for Hell involve fire and a place of torment. Mark 9:48, Jesus calls it a fire that is not quenched. Revelation 20:15 calls hell a lake of fire. Some argue that the term “fire” may be symbolic, and even if we say that then it must represent something that is worse than we can imagine. Even if we try to take the lake of fire and the fiery furnace as symbolic we must be confronted with the terrible thought that these symbols are not overstatements, but rather understatements of a reality that we would otherwise not be able to grasp. Jesus did not choose these pictures to tell us that hell is easier than burning.

Jesus also taught that Hell is a place of conscious torment Luke 16 and in Matthew 22:13 he said it is a place of outer darkness. Hell is real; it is eternal as we read in Matthew 25:46. Not only is hell eternal it is also conscious, all the images that we read of hell in the Bible point to the fact that it is going to be an experiential eternity. This is the experiencing of the wrath of God – it is the reality of our sins before an infinitely holy God.

But the wonderful news that we have today is that Hell is escapable. No-one has to spend eternity in torment, anyone can be saved. Jesus took our punishment on the cross and as a result, those who place their trust in him as their personal Lord and savior will escape the fire of hell.

Jesus often taught in magnificent parables. But in those very same parables the theme is re-iterated that the kingdom of God means that some will be brought into the glory of the fellowship of God’s people and, on the other hand, there will be those who remain outside.

For example

  • The parable of the wheat and the tares, in which the tares in the parable are bound and burned (Matthew 13).
  • The parable of the net that catches the fish in which the bad fish are then cast away (Matthew 13).
  • In Matthew 25, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, in which the foolish virgins are shut out and have no access to the place where the wise virgins rejoice and flourish;
  • Also in Matthew 25 we read the parable of the unprofitable servant, where the servant who did nothing with his bag of Gold is cast out into the outer darkness;
  • And we read of the story of the sheep and the goats in the same chapter, in which the great final division takes place among mankind. And over there on the left hand of the Savior is a place destined for the devil and his angels into which men are sent by Jesus himself because of the way they have responded to the message of the Gospel.

If we take all these word pictures from Jesus and the Apostles we see a common description of what hell includes;

  1. It involves separation from God, being cast away from His presence. This is the most awful part of hell, because we are made by God to experience his presence, it is part of our very nature
  2. It involves depravation of light. It will be a place of utter darkness.
  3. It will be a place of intense and pain.
  4. And it is eternal

Hell is the outpouring of the wrath of God on sinners. When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane when and asked that this cup be taken from him in Matthew 26:39, he was not simply asking for the occasion to be taken away.

He was looking to the prophetic revelation John received in Revelation 14: 10, in describing the punishment of those who worshipped the beast in the last days. Jesus experienced the cup of God’s wrath. The Beloved Son became sin for us and experienced the full amount of the wrath of God. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Jesus took the full punishment of the wrath of God, Jesus the eternal son of God, always in the presence of God, was separated from God as God had to turn away from him when he took on the sins of the world. That is the suffering of Jesus on the cross, the physical pain was real but the cup of the wrath of God was infinitely more painful and excruciating.

The future judgment of unbelievers will not only be final and irreversible, it will also be eternal. On the basis of Scripture we have to reject the doctrine of universalism which is so popular today, which says that all people will eventually be saved.

God designed mankind as eternal beings. We are destined to live forever, he wants to spend eternity with us in fellowship, so in order to do that we had to be designed and fashioned in such a way as to live for eternity. Thus if man decides to reject God’s offer of salvation we are in essence deciding to live for eternity apart from God. But the fact that we are eternal beings cannot be done away with.

It is important to note that God does not send anyone to hell (1 Peter 3:9). It is not God’s choice to have man spend eternity in hell, but the sin of the individual sends them there. As C.S. Lewis puts it; “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.” Ever since Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God mankind has been saying to God; “go away and leave me alone” Hell is God’s way of granting that wish.

Hell is not an easy subject to talk about, but we must, it is imperative that we are provoked to share the wonderful message of the Gospel with others because we are driven with compassion for them. The reason we are driven by compassion is that we know that we too are sinners saved only by the grace of God.

John Piper wrote; “When the heart not longer feels the truth of hell, the Gospel passes from good news to simply news.”

The saving Gospel is good news!

What Happens Next part 1- Heaven 7/12/15


John 14:1-4

For many eternity is something we don’t often talk about or think about. The bottom line is that we are eternal beings created by God to live for eternity. And the future condition of every human being is determined by the decisions you make here on earth today. Moral decisions and ultimately the decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life or to reject his offer of salvation will determines our eternal destiny. Since heaven or hell are the eternal place for everyone on earth, it is surprising that so little is said about it from our pulpits.

Because of the fear of the unknown, we avoid talking about Heaven. This is also one of Satan’s primary goals, to make little of heaven and our eternal home with our Heavenly Father. Satan firstly wants to convince us that Heaven does not exist, then if he fails in that he will try to convince us that Heaven is a boring and unattractive place that we go to after our “real life” here on earth is done. The truth is that Satan hates the New Heaven and the New Earth that we read about in the Revelation to the apostle John.

“Grasping what the Bible teaches about Heaven shifts our center of gravity and radically alters our perspective on life”. Alcorn

In John 14 we see Jesus’ final remarks during the last supper as he was preparing his disciples for his death. Then Jesus made the statement; “Trust in God; trust also in me.”He was not suggesting that they should or could trust in him to make good on his promises. He was probably giving them a command to trust in him to have faith, because Jesus knows that he is faithful and that all the promises of God are true and trustworthy. God is able to make good on any promise he makes. We too can and must trust him.

Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them, his disciples must have had a hundred questions; What is this place? Where is it? What is it going to be like? How do we get there?

Today we also have many questions regarding Heaven. The first issue that is questioned about heaven is whether or not it is an actual place or a state. Since God is spirit and we are to be in close communion with him, some say Heaven is only a state of mind and not a real place. However, Jesus ascended to heaven in a resurrected body and we too will receive resurrected bodies to live in heaven (1 Corinthians 15). Thus it must be a place where we can live in a real existence. While it is probable that heaven is in another dimension, we still can be assured that heaven is both a place and a state.

So if heaven is a real place, can we look at anything here around us and say, that this is what heaven will be like? Just like it is impossible for us to describe God using our vocabulary and things we can identify with, so to it is impossible to fully describe heaven. We also want to understand heaven through the lens of what brings us pleasure here on earth, and we simply cannot do that, because we live in a world tainted by the effects of sin. Heaven will be filled with pleasures that are infinitely more real and lasting than anything we know here in this lifetime.


But the primary joy of heaven will not be the state of our being, or the weather or the experiences we will taste. Far superior to all of that will be the fact that we will be in the presence of God.

We were made to have communion with God, God created man in his own image way back in the book of Genesis to have fellowship with him. But when sin entered the world, that relationship was broken and there was a separation that took place. Inside every human being is a longing and an unfulfilled desire that can only be met by the perfect presence of God himself (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Being in the presence of God for eternity is heaven and being separated from God for eternity is hell. Our selfish and humanistic mindset cannot even begin to grasp what it will be like to be in the presence of God and to worship him, in his presence. My friends, it will not be boring, that is a lie from Satan. In our “what’s in it for me” culture, we have no idea of what it will be like to be in the presence of the creator of the universe. Heaven will be primarily a place filled with the glory of God (Revelation 21:23).

So heaven will be a place of rest, peace and worship of God, but heaven will also be a place of service and work. We will not be idly sitting on clouds playing harps. God is a creative God and he designed us to be creative beings along with him. We see in Genesis 1, that God created man to rule and take care of the creatures of the earth. God is still creating, he will continue to create and we will work in various capacities and roles of authority in the new heaven and the new earth (See the parable of the Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30).

The final question we must face is how do we get there?

If heaven is real, and our lives here on earth are very temporary, we need to know how to get to Heaven, our eternal resting place, with God. Thomas asked the same question (John 14:5)

Jesus is the way, and the Bible is clear that he is the only way. I know that this is not politically correct in our modern society, but it is not a popular message. Only those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior will enter into Heaven (Matthew 7:13 & 14).

Life on earth is temporary, but eternity is forever. You and I will all live forever somewhere.

In God we Trust 7/5/15


Text: Psalm 25:1-15

In life there are many things we trust, we can trust in our position in life, our families, the power of the military and defense force of our nation, we can trust in our education and experience to get us through situations, many people also trust in money, in particular we trust in money for our ability to care for ourselves in retirement or ill health. To me the great irony is that on our currency it states; “in God we Trust” but most people trust in the dollar more than they trust in God.


I want to challenge you afresh to trust in God, to look at the situations in your life and see what you need to place in the hands of God. Maybe you face an insurmountable challenge and you are in fear today, not sure what the future looks like, today I want to encourage you that you can put your trust in God, He is able, and he is faithful.

As we focus on Psalm 25 we notice that the Psalm has three distinct features or sections.

As David cries out to God he asks the Lord for direction and guidance. Then as David enters into the presence of God, he is drawn to repentance. And then David asks the Lord for protection against his enemies.

So we have three aspects, Protection, Pardon and Guidance.

I want to focus on the guidance of God today as we look at what it means to trust in him. (see Proverbs 3:5 and 6)

As we look at verse 4 and 5 of the Psalm we see that David is acknowledging that he doesn’t have the ability to move forward, he is coming and pleading with the Lord for direction; how often do we cry out to God like this for our future? “For You I wait all the day.” Do we know what it is to wait on the Lord? Or do we offer a 30 second prayer and then rush out and make our own plans?

But as David goes on we read in verse 9; “ He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.”

At first this sounds good and right, we know that in order to trust God we need to humbly come before him and acknowledge our weakness, but as I was studying this verse I found that the Hebrew Language here for the term humble can also mean afflicted or broken. So in that respect we can read verse 9 as; “He leads the humbled in Justice and He teaches the humbled His way”. We tend to think of being humble as a posture that we present to God in the way of our attitude, but rather David here gives us a picture of being afflicted and humbled by God. We don’t like the sound of that. But remember verse 4 and 5; “Make me know your ways… and lead me in your truth” David was pleading with God to teach him and the humbling process was the way God taught David dependence on him. And by God’s grace he does that to all of us, when we are brought to the place where we realize we have nothing to offer and are humbled in the presence of the almighty God.

Looking at verses 12 and 14 we see the familiar theme of the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom as we read in Proverbs 111:10. A respect and acknowledgment for who God is, will bring us into a position us understanding and wisdom, which is knowledge given by God. Acknowledging who God is, must be first and foremost in our lives as we seek to know his will for our lives and begin to trust him for the future.

It is very simple, if we are able to grasp just a tiny fragment of the Glory and Majesty of God and then compare it to the problem that we face, we will see how insignificant our problem is in comparison. God is awesome, fear God.

What Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago paid the penalty. God raised him from the dead and in that earth shattering event, the hold of sin on mankind was broken. We have a risen savior that rules today at the right hand of the Father. Our struggles today are temporary and fleeting in the light of eternity. We look around and we see a nation that is very different to the one we knew 20 years ago, but let me give you a wonderful piece of news. Nothing that is happening today or will happen tomorrow will ever shake God or catch him off guard. And along with that, the church, the body of Christ that is built on the foundation of the Word of God and with Jesus as the cornerstone will never be shaken. I pray that we at Grace Point will be a church that is so grounded in the word of God as our foundation that we will never be shaken. Isaiah 40 is a wonderful prophecy about Jesus which John the Baptist quoted in Matthew 3, but these words are still applicable and a wonderful promise to us today. (see Isaiah 40:5-8)

Note, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah wrote; “the word of our God stands forever”, we can trust in the Word of God. In order to put our trust in the word of God, we need to know the word of God and meditate on the word of God. Every one of us is to be a student of the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to us and allowing us to have a sure foundation that will not be shaken in an ever changing world.

When we see the changes taking place around us, we need to be drawn to our knees as we are to pray for our country. We weep and mourn as we see changes that seem to be out of our control, but we are not a people without hope. If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are part of another Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. This kingdom will endure forever. (see Psalm 145:13)

The Lord is Trustworthy! As children of the Kingdom of God we know two things for certain, it is an everlasting Kingdom and The Lord our God is trustworthy.

AW Tozer in his book “the dangers of a shallow faith” wrote; “Either God is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.”

Is he Lord of all for your life today?

Hearing God’s Voice Part 3 6/14/15


Text: Jeremiah 17:5-8

As we have seen for the past two weeks, God speaks to us today in order to give us instructions for our lives and we need to learn obedience to the voice of God. But for many it is so hard to know the will of God for their lives. My friends that is simply not true. You and I were saved for a purpose, saved to bring Glory to God, not to simply try in our own abilities to get by and hope for the best. That is a meaningless and fruitless existence. God has a plan for your life and he communicates that plan to you, as you position yourself to hear from him.

Jeremiah was a prophet who was born in 648 B.C.; he grew up in the time of King Josiah and lived about two miles outside Jerusalem. He actually came from a family of priests and was familiar with the inner workings of the political arena in Israel at the time.

At the age of 20, God called Jeremiah to be his spokesman to the people of Judah. But Jeremiah protested, saying that he was too young. Last week we saw how Moses argued with God, trying to explain to God that he was not equipped to handle the task and responsibility that God had for him. Remember, when God calls you, he knows exactly who he is calling, he calls weak and broken people to be his greatest warriors.

Jeremiah’s ministry spanned 40 years, and he was the prophet who declared and saw the final days of Judah’s existence as an independent nation. He is often called the weeping prophet because of the personal anguish he knew in his ministry.

The book of Jeremiah is a collection of short sermons delivered during the rule of various different kings’ of Judah. Chapter 17 is a short poem contrasting the way of the wicked and sinful and the way of the righteous.

Judah had been relying on false gods, the idols of the nations in and around their land. They had also become reliant on foreign alliances that they had made and felt secure in their own abilities. They trusted in man and not in God, the one true God. Jeremiah then contrasts this with the person who trusts in God as their only hope and confidence. This person will flourish like a tree planted by the water, who when trials and dangers come, they will prosper and bear fruit. This is much like the psalm of David, when preparing to go to battle; Psalm 20:7:” 7Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.”

But Jeremiah saw the connection between putting faith in foreign alliances and lack of faith in God. The Lord revealed to him that the Babylonian empire was coming from the north and would be used by God to punish the idolatry and sins of the people of Judah. Now, it is not wrong to make alliances with foreign nations, but for Judah it was a clear sign that they did not trust God to take care of them; it was a lack of faith. As a result of their lack of faith, God was going to turn the Promised Land into a wasteland and the city of Jerusalem into a heap of rubble.

God has done everything to make a way for you to be in a relationship with him by sending his son, Jesus Christ to be our savior. God wants us to know him, to grow in our relationship with him. In order to grow in our relationship with God we need to get into the habit of asking questions, and then be quiet and let God speak to you. Always remember that God wants a relationship with you more than you want one with him. But if you truly seek him, he will reveal himself to you (see Jeremiah 29:13). God wants you to seek him more than anything else.

As you begin the practice of regularly listening to the voice of God in prayer and meditating on scripture, it is important that when you feel that God has given you an instruction that you write it down. We so easily forget, writing it down not only solidifies it in our minds, but it enables us to refer back to it in days and years to come. After you have written down test it, make sure that what you feel God is saying to you is not in contradiction to scripture and the revealed character and nature of God.

But then the final and most crucial aspect of all, you must move in obedience and action. We must be obedient; Jesus said in John 14:23; “if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” and the writer to the Hebrews writes; “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7b).

You and I were saved for a purpose, if you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you have a responsibility to Love God and to Love others. We are called to live lives that make a difference and make an impact in our communities and work places. In order to be fruitful and make a difference we need to receive our marching orders- our plan of action from God. Do you know the voice of God? Do you receive your orders from God or are you like the People that Jeremiah was dealing with who were listening to those around them and making their plans trusting in the strength of mortal man.


Today you can begin to live a life of fruitfulness and trusting in the Lord for the harvest. Be like the tree planted by the river, that never fails to produce fruit. You will know what God wants you to do; you will know the will of God for your life. This is not some unreal promise that seems too good to be true. It is available to all of us, not only that, it is required of us as followers of Jesus.

Hearing God’s Voice Part 2 6/7/15

How does God speak?

 Text: Exodus 3:1-6


Exodus 3 describes the commissioning and call of Moses. Little did Moses know that morning when he took his sheep out to pasture, that he would have such a significant encounter, one that would not only change his life, but would also change the lives of millions and the entire nation of Israel. But he was ready, not that he was ready to lead the Children of Israel, but he was ready for the voice of God. He was paying attention to the signs; he noticed the bush that was burning, but not being consumed. He was going about his business, being diligent and alert. God is still today looking for people who are alert, seeing the signs and being ready to respond.

What follows in the next two chapters of Exodus is one of the longest and most significant dialogues between God and man that you will find anywhere in Scripture.


After 40 years of being trained in the courts of Pharaoh in Egypt, Moses goes into a self imposed exile after murdering an Egyptian, and now at the age of 80, he is leading his father in laws flock of sheep in the desert or wilderness searching for good grazing. As he roams around he comes to a place that is known as Horeb. The name Horeb means “dry and I am sure Moses was walking around this region, he wondered if he would ever again see the wealth and fertile lands of Egypt. He was in a dry place, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

But then God spoke!

God himself calls Moses out of the Fire. “Moses! Moses!” Moses must have been scared to death, he had never heard the audible voice of God before, and he was all alone on the mountain. But Moses responds the same way as his forefathers Abraham and Jacob did before him and also the same way in which Samuel responded.

He simply said; “Here I am”. Moses was available – God is looking for people who respond when he calls still today.

What follows is the long dialogue between God and Moses. During this discourse with God, Moses is doing his best to disqualify himself for the task that God was giving him; Moses goes to great lengths arguing with God about his calling. You see Moses had been in the wilderness for so long, that he had disqualified himself in his own eyes. But God knows who he is calling, God knew exactly who Moses was, and that is the reason why he called him. Moses was suffering from a false humility that so is not uncommon today.

When God calls you, he knows you better than you know yourself, no need to remind him of your faults. But as a child of the King, when God calls you, he sees the only redeeming quality you have, he sees Jesus in you the hope of glory. Let me assure you none of us have any quality in and of ourselves that can impress God. If God calls you, do not resort to false humility, it is offensive to God, he knows what you can do. In fact false humility is the ugliest form of pride.

God still speaks today. So how does God speak? For Moses it was a fire in a bush, but what about us?

God speaks in a variety of ways:

Just because he used them in the past it doesn’t mean that he will use them again, also, he may speak in ways that he has never used before. We cannot place the omniscient God in a box, be wary of the reason given – “God has never done that before!!”

God desires and wants to communicate with people. And will not be limited to how.

  • God speaks through scripture – This is our primary source for God to speak to us.

The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God, because it is His revelation of himself to mankind. God’s particular revelation of himself is in the Holy Spirit inspired word of God.

(See; Ephesians 6:17 & 2 timothy 3:16)

Having said that, God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible, he is God after all and can speak in any way he wishes. After all God used a rooster crowing three times to speak to Peter at Jesus’ trial. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God has limited himself to speaking through scripture. As we study the scriptures we learn about God, we grow in our relationship with him.

  • God speaks through others: God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us, we all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love. Isaiah 28:11.
  • God speaks through circumstances – Gen 50:20. Joseph saw how God used the seemingly impossible circumstances and redeem them to his glory.
  • God speaks through words of wisdom and knowledge – 1 Corinthians 12:7-9.
  • The audible voice of God – 1 Kings 19:11-12 we read how God spoke to Elijah the prophet.
  • God also speaks to us in that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Just as we discussed a few weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday. Knowing and being sensitive to that inner voice of God. That is living by the Spirit of God.
  • God still speaks in Dreams; the life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretation. But today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in a dream and being converted.
  • Sermons- my prayer every week is that you don’t come here to hear the words of a somewhat educated man, but that you would be moved into action by the words of God as He speaks to you Sunday by Sunday.

But with all these and many more ways in which God speaks we must be very careful to test and make sure that it is the voice of God. Remember God will never contradict Scripture; the Word of God is still our standard. God will also not ask us to do anything that does not exalt the name of Jesus.

You may say, “well I don’t hear god speaking – he doesn’t speak to me – “

You are not alone in feeling this way, but the truth is that God does speak to you – you are just not listening – Remember PSALM 46:10:” Be still and know that I am God.” Just be quiet and let him speak!

But we find another piece of valuable guidance from Paul in Philippians 4:8. Think on these things – again as we meditate on scripture, and the things of the Lord, we are able to better hear his voice. The truth is that we tend to think about things that we focus on. Sometimes this is not always bad – but for example if you constantly listen to talk radio you will probably become depressed and make plans to move to Argentina. In our society we have an incredible access to information – not all bad – but not all edifying and up building. I am not saying that you need to become a monk – but rather limit your time dwelling on things that are not part of God’s plan and will for your life.

Proverbs 4:23 states; “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If the goal of our lives is to become more like Christ we need to take this seriously. How do we know the will of God for our lives? Paul makes it very clear in Romans 12:2.

So I encourage you this morning to develop a lifestyle of listening to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you. Start a prayer journal and write down what you feel God is saying, test it and be obedient to God.