Please turn to Joshua chapter one as we prepare to get started today. As you are turning let me tell you of a story of a T.V. repairman who didn’t like to think about his job when he came home. As a result, he never bothered to properly install the T.V. antenna on the top of his house or fix it when one arm broke in a windstorm. One day a new family moved in next door, and the owner went up on his roof to install an antenna. Knowing that his neighbor was a T.V. repairman, he put his up exactly the same way and turned his antenna to face in the same direction as his neighbor’s. Then, after studying his neighbor’s antenna for a while, he reached up and broke one arm off his new antenna! (http://sermons.logos.com/submissions/63741-Leaving-Our-Mark-#content=/submissions/63741)
The bottom line is that people are watching. What we do, how we live, the choices we make, the places we frequent, the company we keep, the way we handle the stresses of life, how we spend our time, and what we are willing to do for others all leave an impression on people. They all have impact. We all we leave a lasting mark on others, all of us. Will the mark look like a bruise or a blessing? Will the mark lead them closer to Christ or cause them to conclude that if we are what Christianity is about then they want no part in any attempt to be a Christian? Will we inspire others to be better or bitter? What mark will we leave behind?
Recall from last week that Noah left a mark on his family forever with his faith. Abraham left a mark on his son and all of his family forever through his obedience. Moses left a lasting mark through his investment in Joshua through mentoring. Faith, obedience and mentoring—They will leave a mark.
Our first “mark maker” for today is Joshua. He left a mark because of his courage.
Joshua 1:1-9 1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up 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. 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God said a mouthful to Joshua in these verses. He basically said, “By the way, you are now in charge. Get ready to move this massive group of people on. They can’t sit still. There is a future to claim. You will possess every inch of ground your feet walk on because I am going to hand it to you. Your enemies? They won’t be a problem for you. I’ll handle them. I will be with you every step of the way. Just be courageous. Joshua, did I mention your job is to be courageous? Oh, and obey what is in the Bible. You have to study it and really know it. There is a correlation between knowing it and obeying it and prosperity and success. How does that sound, Joshua? Oh, and if I forgot to tell you, Joshua, be courageous. Don’t be a sissy, Joshua! Don’t be a wimp. Don’t even put the word “discouraged” in your vocabulary. I’m with you, and I’ve got it all under control.” That’s the Melissa Pratt version.
Why did Joshua need courage? Why was that the overarching message in the midst of a hodge-podge of other advice? Listen, leading a group of people on a mission to do anything is tough. Sometimes you have to be thick-skinned. All of the time you have to be patient. You have to have wisdom to think through how your messages will be received. You have to evaluate what is the best way to communicate in order to be clear and to keep everyone on the same page. You must process how you will handle conflict when it comes up. It takes strategy to develop a team. You have to figure out who you can trust to help you accomplish God’s plans. How many meetings will be necessary to lay out the game plan? What will you do when the unexpected happens? How will you deal with the expectations of those you are leading?
You see Joshua had more to do than just get people from point A to point B, and he knew it. He saw the way the people could turn on Moses and grumble and complain. Could he handle that? He had reasons to be nervous! Yes, God said He would give him the land he would walk on, but he never said it would be easy. There were enemies to face and battles to fight. Listen, anything worth conquering will come with a price.
Joshua needed courage most because it was THE mindset that would help propel him forward as a leader. He was going to have to mentally fight through wanting to resign, wanting to retire, wanting to try to please all of the people all of the time just so he could have peace at times. He had to have the mentality that no matter how skilled the enemy was, how fortified their territory was, or how many weapons they possessed that because God said he would conquer them, that he really would.
Courage isn’t about wielding a sword first. It’s not about speaking bold words. Courage starts in your mind. It is the ability to choose to believe something different than what you can see. It is the ability to shut out the voices of distraction and stress in order to listen to an audience of One. That takes courage! It is the mindset of courage that helps you act with confidence even when you are afraid.
We often fail to act because we don’t think correctly about the circumstances we face. We build them up in our minds. We come to faulty conclusions. We try to second guess what other people’s responses will be. Listen, one of the fastest ways to insanity is to try to predict the future. We have to learn to trust God in the moment because the future can be overwhelming. Feeling overwhelmed will lead to fear, and fear will paralyze you and keep you from leading anyone anywhere. Leadership requires the mindset of courage.
That mindset has to be developed. It doesn’t just happen. You don’t just write, “I will have the mind of courage” 1000 times and tape it to your refrigerator and wake up a week later filled with courage. No! It is cultivated, through meditation on the Word of God. That’s why God told Joshua in verse 8, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
When you meditate on Scripture, you will develop a peaceful mind-Isaiah 26:3.
When you meditate on Scripture, you will have confidence in the way you should go-Psalm 119:105.
When you meditate on Scripture, you will become steady and spiritually stable-Psalm 1:2.
When you meditate on Scripture, it bolsters your faith-Psalm 77:10-12.
God didn’t ask Joshua to have confidence in himself. He didn’t ask Joshua to find courage within himself. He told Joshua to have confidence in Him and to find courage through meditating on His Word.
Because Joshua listened and wasn’t self-reliant, but God reliant battle after battle after battle was won! God’s people took the Promised Land. Joshua got to be “that guy!” the one that led God’s people to actually enter the Land of Promise.
What a mark Joshua made! As the Israelites sat around campfires in the coming years, I can just hear one of the old men telling the younger ones, “Have I ever told you about the time we marched around Jericho for seven days?” to which I am sure the young man replied, “Yes, about a hundred times!” Joshua got to be remembered as the leader who led them into perhaps what was the greatest time period in Israel’s history. Courage . . . that’ll leave a mark.
Our second “mark maker” is Daniel. I believe he made his mark because of his commitment.
Daniel was carried into exile into Babylon as a young teenage boy. Taken captive into a far country, he was forced into service in the King’s palace. He stands as a beautiful example that it is possible to stay committed to God even when there is pressure to conform and just go with the flow or do what everyone else in the world is doing.
Daniel was put in a situation where he was expected to do what the Babylonians did and to eat what the Babylonians ate as he entered into training in the King’s service. The problem was that what they did included pagan behavior, and the food they ate had been sacrificed to idols. Many people in Daniel’s situation may simply conclude that they were prisoners, they were captives, and that they had no choice but to do what was expected of them. Not so with Daniel.
Daniel 1:8 tells us that because of Daniel’s commitment to God, he lived out that commitment by refusing to eat the food that was on the menu. “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” He had no idea how his request would be received, but he had resolved, he had made up his mind he wasn’t going to compromise. He didn’t spend time lamenting how much easier it was to be a God-follower back home. He was a God-follower whether he was at home with the majority or in exile with the minority.
Jesus prayed for us, not that we could live in a monastery and worship Him, not that we would build a Christian commune on the top of a mountain and pray for His return, but He prayed we would follow through with being sent by Him on purpose into the world where it is dark and difficult to live as a Christian. And He wouldn’t have it any other way. Listen to His words in John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus never intended for us to live apart from the world. His plan is for us to live in the world, but to be conspicuously different.
Christians, we are not called to be chameleons. We aren’t supposed to blend in. There should be distinct differences between the way we live and the way the world lives. We give up way too easily. We are too easily defeated. We are too easily discouraged. We are too quick to just surrender in silence or to join in just because everyone else is doing it. Our faith isn’t to be turned on and off like a light switch. It is most effective and shines the brightest in the dark.
Well, things went well for Daniel. The people in charge of the food prep were happy to help Daniel out and make something different just for him. God gave favor to Daniel and caused the chefs to be sympathetic towards him, but as they were preparing his food, they took notice that he was a committed God follower. He wasn’t a fair weather Christian. He wasn’t interested in just blending in.
Later in Daniel 6 a law was made that no one could pray to any other god except to King Darius. If the law was violated the punishment was a visit to the lion’s den followed by death after just one bite. Listen, you don’t cultivate that kind of commitment in the moment of crisis. Daniel was able to defy the government and face death because his commitment had been cultivated in private before it was ever challenged in public.
Praying was something he had always done and he did it multiple times a day. Daniel 6 says he did it 3 times a day. Listen, commitment isn’t something you are born with, and it isn’t something that you muster in a minute, but it is something you train yourself to possess.How many Christians want to sign up for that class? Commitment training 101? I can see the masses lining up to sign up for that one!
Listen, commitment training is tedious. It is a daily effort. It takes time. It means saying “no” to sleeping in on Sundays. It means getting your Bible out, and if it is tough to read it means doing some research and asking some questions. It means setting aside time to pray. It means learning about how God has wired you and serving Him with your spiritual gifts. It involves submission to the Holy Spirit every day and a willingness to open your mouth and your checkbook when He asks you to. It means running from temptation and asking God to take anything out of your life that could compromise your spiritual reputation, called your witness. It means saying “no” to “little things” perhaps no one else sees along the way so that you can stand firm in your faith when the “big thing” comes your way and everyone is watching.
I’ve been with several people in the moment of crises and how my heart breaks when I hear that they don’t know how to pray or what to say or how to call on God! Listen, Daniel didn’t have to wait until the moment of crisis and hope his prayers were heard in heaven. He already KNEW how to pray because he had been daily committed to God. I wonder how passionate his prayers were that day. I wonder what he asked of God because he knew he was headed for the lion’s den.
Young people, listen to me. You can stand for Christ in the halls of your school. You can say “no” to drugs and alcohol. You can get involved in ministry as a young person. You can make a difference in the darkness around you. You can keep certain words out of your vocabulary. You can screen movies at pluggedinonline.com to see if they are appropriate for a Christian to view. You can listen to different music than the world listens to. You can dress in a way that pleases God and leaves something to the imagination! You canavoid drama and gossip and hateful speech. You canmake God-honoring choices even when everybody else is doing something else! You can be sexually pure!
Listen, I was sexually pure when I got married, and I didn’t get married until my 29th birthday! That’s right. Let that sink in! If I can save myself for marriage you can too! “Well, Pastor, that’s just TMI. That’s not really appropriate for Sunday morning.” Listen, that is a testimony to the power of God and the fruit of the Spirit in a life, and I will glorify God until I see Him face to face about the decision to avoid sex before marriage because it spared me a lifetime of regret!
Don’t tell me it’s too hard to wait. Don’t tell me about how hard peer pressure is. Daniel was a young man, only about 14 or 15 when he displayed the commitment we are talking about, and he was facing death for not compromising. Not one of us in this room has ever been threatened with that kind of consequence, and how quickly we give in when there is just a little pressure or a little comment or even when someone looks at us “the wrong way.”
How did Daniel’s commitment leave a mark? He lived during the reign of two different kings, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, and BOTH of them turned to acknowledge the God of Heaven as a result of Daniel’s commitment! That is huge! Two national leaders gave God praise and glory because of the commitment of Daniel. Imagine what an influence their changes of heart had on the people in their kingdom! Commitment, that’ll leave another mark.
Everyone needs the kind of mark Jonathan made on David’s life. Jonathan’s mark was the mark of friendship. They say “blood is thicker than water,” but a true friend will come to your aid even if there is some “blood” in the way.
Jonathan’s dad, King Saul, was out to kill David. But Jonathan was a true friend to David and pledged to assist him and ensure his safety. Jonathan was a wonderful example of the Scripture, in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” One of Job’s greatest sorrows was recorded in Job 19:19. It wasn’t the loss of his children. It wasn’t the loss of his livestock and income. It wasn’t the loss of his health. It was the desertion of his friends.
Jonathan helped David escape from his dad’s jealous wrath. He was willing to betray his loyalty to his own father to do what was right to help his friend. Jackie Robinson was the first black to play major league baseball. Breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop Pee Wee Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.
That’s the role of a great friend. He will face the music with you. He will face the jeers of the crowd with you. He will come to your aid even when it isn’t popular.
The special thing about David and Jonathan’s friendship was the bond they shared in the Lord. It was a spiritual friendship. 1 Samuel 20:42: 42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'” There is nothing like a Christian friend to pray for you and encourage you in the Lord!
If you have a loyal friend who encourages you to do the wrong thing and who influences you to compromise your faith, he isn’t the kind of friend you need to be hanging around very often. What made this friendship special was the spiritual component.
Talk about leaving a mark! Jonathan’s help and enduring friendship left a lasting mark on David. Well, when King Saul died, David became the King. He thought so much of Jonathan and his friendship that even though Jonathan had passed on too, David wanted to honor his memory and honor their friendship. He asked in 2 Samuel 9:1 “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
David learned that one of Jonathan’s sons was left. His name was Mephibosheth, and he was “lame in both feet.” David had him brought to the palace to live. Mephibosheth went from living in hiding and obscurity to eating at the King’s table for the rest of his life all because of the friendship his father, Jonathan, had shown to David. Mephibosheth was overwhelmed by David’s kindness. He referred to himself as a “dead dog.” He didn’t consider himself worthy of David’s kindness, but how his life changed forever because of the mark of friendship his dad had made.
Jonathan couldn’t have predicted how much his lame son would benefit from the friendship he offered David several years earlier. What a blessing it has been to Thom and me when because of our friendship with some folks they have taken a special interest in our children. Friendship extends beyond the moment and leaves a mark in the hearts of others in your life as well.
Courage, commitment, and friendship, they’ll all leave a mark. In what ways have you found it to be true in your own life?