2017: Page 36

Page 36 was a Sunday, and being the first Sunday of the month I had the privilege of preaching at the North Wayne Mennonite Church in Dowagiac, Michigan as I do on the first Sunday of most months.  Susan had a night where sleep was elusive, which meant it wasn’t that easy for the rest of us to find either.  As I woke up and got dressed for the day, my mind was trying to fight through the fog of weariness as I went over the sermon plan in my head.  Some days I am pretty comfortable with the simmering and processing routine that goes on in my mind as part of the sermon prep process . . . and other days, well other days I wonder if I’m going to have anything worth listening to.  Today was one of those “other days” right up to the time I got up to share the message.  

I believe God used the simmering and processing time from throughout the week to prepare me to deliver the message He wanted regardless of how inadequate I felt.  Last year I began looking at Bible characters who either call themselves servants of the Lord, or are specifically pointed out as such in scripture.  Today we looked at the person of Joshua and how he lived out God’s command to be strong and courageous by being a servant of the Lord who was BOLD.  Unfortunately, in today’s culture we tend to equate being bold with terms such as brash, bossy, arrogant, pushy, and domineering — characteristics most of us are not too fond of when directed at us by others.  The key to the Lord’s servant being BOLD is to understand that the servant aspect is primary.

In today’s message, we looked at the following four aspect of living as a BOLD servant of the Lord:

  • We start by being a Believing servant of the Lord.  As the book of Deuteronomy comes to an end, Moses begins the transfer of leadership to Joshua and three times he instructs Joshua to be strong and courageous.  After the death of Moses, we come to the book of Joshua and in the first chapter find Joshua receiving that same instruction to be strong and courageous another four times!  A bold servant believes that God can make you what He says you are to be.  With so many reminders at this point in his life, it makes me wonder if the strong and courageous Joshua from forty years earlier had lost some of his boldness and needed to once again believe that God would do what He says He will.
  • We validate our believing by becoming an Obedient servant of the Lord.  The Bible makes it clear that simply saying we believe what God says is put to the test through our obedience to what He says.  Joshua had seen firsthand the consequences of disobedience as all of his peers except Caleb had perished in the wilderness over the past forty years.  His mentor, Moses, was prevented from entering the promised land because he had not obeyed.  As we look at the battle plan God presented to Joshua for the conquering of Jericho, it would appear that Joshua’s commitment to obedience would be put to the test right away.  We’re able to read the story, Joshua does obey God’s instructions and the victory is won.  Living as obedient servants of the Lord is not often tested in the areas of life where we live in agreement with God, rather it is tested when God’s instructions appear to us to make no sense.  God doesn’t look for servants who are able to explain why His Word no longer applies to us today, rather He is looking for servants that obey His Word in a way that encourages obedience from others as well.
  • In addition to being a Believing and Obedient servant, a servant of the Lord also Leads.  Joshua was called to be strong and courageous, to be bold, in order to lead the people of Israel under God’s command.  A godly leader is bold because they recognize that the leader they are following is God.  While we all have unique gifts, callings, and responsibilities, we all have the ability to lead by our example.  I love what I consider God’s summary of Joshua’s leadership.  At the end of the book of Joshua, it says that all of Israel followed the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and throughout the lifetime of the elders who outlived him and had experienced all that God had done for Israel during Joshua’s lifetime.  When you think about being a bold servant of the Lord, are there people around you that you are leading to a closer relationship with God by your words and actions?  A bold servant of the Lord is always leading people into relationship with God rather than leading people to himself.
  • Finally, a BOLD servant of the Lord is Deliberate.  As I mentioned this morning, this is difficult for me.  I tend to have a personality that mostly floats, or “goes with the flow”.  Not that I, or you if you are like this also, have to give up my personality, but I do have to be deliberate about serving God by serving others with what He has given me.  I look at it this way; in many ways my writing has been the result of my simply going with the flow.  I didn’t set out to write, let alone have a plan to write prayer-based devotional books, but once the flow has taken me in that direction, I have become deliberate in finding ways to use the writings and books to serve and encourage others.  Joshua was not only deliberate in his pursuit of living as a servant of the Lord, he called others to make a deliberate choice regarding who they would serve.  I pray that you and I would always be able to be deliberate about choosing to serve God and that our life would always echo the words of Joshua, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Today’s photo was taken a couple days ago along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  When I look at it, I first see the tree standing alone in the sand along the waterfront.  I think of the shifting sand along dunes that seems to be in constant motion yet in the midst of all the change and uncertainty, here is a tree that has taken a stand — perhaps a bold stand — and remains firmly planted by a stream (lake) of water.  In seasons other than winter, it continues to provide welcomed shade and relief for many a beach-goer.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • When one part of the family (body) suffers they all suffer — I think I’ve read that somewhere. 
  • Preparation allows God to share through you what He has put in you even when you wonder if you’re ready.
  • It seems everyone wants to be number one, or the greatest.  I have news that shouldn’t be too much of secret, whoever wants to be great must become servant of all — I think I’ve read that one somewhere also. 
  • Being a bold servant requires that we Believe God can and will do what He says.
  • Being a bold servant requires that we Obey God in everything that He has said.
  • Being a bold servant requires the we Lead people to a closer relationship with God by our words and actions.
  • Being a bold servant requires that we are Deliberate about using every aspect of God’s gifting in our life to serve others.
  • God’s desire is that each of us would flourish as a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in due season.  Is your life bearing good fruit?

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