1. Donald Barnhouse tells about a friend who raised strawberry plants. One time he sent Donald a shipment of a thousand plants. Barnhouse, who owned some land, entrusted them to a farmer to care for these plants for him.
About the beginning of June, Barnhouse was delighted to find his patch loaded with thousands of blossoms; his mouth watered in anticipation. A few days later as he was talking to that farmer he was told that he had just come back from plucking off the blossoms to his strawberry plants.
Barnhouse could hardly believe his ears, but the farmer explained, "If you have strawberries the first year, the strength goes into the berries and the plants become weak, and they will never produce much in the future. But if you let strength go into the plants the first year, you will have magnificent berries."
2. Have you ever felt like somebody has been plucking your spiritual blossoms, keeping you from having much visible fruit? It could be God! He knows that if we had too much outward fruit, too soon, it would ruin us for future growth and productivity.
3. Be at Rest with God's Best, even when everything is a Mess.
Trans: Joshua 1:1
I. First, we see his Faith.
A. His Initial faith.
1. He was Born in Slavery. Num. 13:8,16
Follow the typology: Egypt = lost condition; Passover = salvation; Wilderness = carnality; Jordan River = death to self; Canaan = the abundant life.
2. He was Brought up in slavery.
3. He was Bought out of slavery.
No one can rest n God's best until they have applied the blood of Christ, as depicted in the Passover. Augustine, "God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You."
We were all born and brought up in slavery, the question is, have we been bought by the blood of the Lamb?
B. His Continual faith. Rom. 1:17
1. Proven by Demonstration.
a. Ex. 17:8-13 [Moses said...Joshua went]
b. Num. 13:26-29; 14:6-10
Faith obeys God even when it is unpopular. Faith does not seek man's approval but God's, faith never takes a poll to see whats popular, but looks to God's Word. This is not easy today. Warren Wiersbe writes:
"The average Christian probably doesnt realize how important popularity is to the ministery these days. When I began pastoring at Moody Church people started coming out of the woodwork asking me to come here, speak there, or write this or that.
One day a pastor called me up and wanted me to give a series of messages on worship. Because my schedule was already full, I declined the offer and gave him the name of a friend who would do a tremendous job. "I've never heard of him" the pastor said. "So what?" I replied, "Until this evening, I'd never heard of you! Are you looking for a celebrity or a speaker?" My friend never got the invitation."
c. Josh. 11:15
Joshua demonstrated his faith many times by his obedience. No obedience to God means no faith in God.
2. Proven also by Declaration. Heb. 11:30
Joshua lived in slavery some 40 years and wandered in the wilderness with a bunch of cry babies for another 40 years and yet continued on with God.
Reminds me of a story I read about Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president of the United States. He and others were traveling by horseback across this country. They came to a flooded river due to a recent downpour. The bridge had been washed away and they were forced to cross the strong current on horseback.
A man, not being part of their group, had been watching the river for some time. He asked Jefferson if he would ride him across the river and the President agreed without hesitation. The two made it safely over the extremely hazarus river.
One of the group asked the stranger, "Tell me, why did you select the President to ask for a ride across?" The man was surprized, he had no idea that he was the President. He said, "All I know is that on som eof your faces was written the answer no and on some of them was the answer, yes.
Joshua had the yes face of faith, even when facing the storms of life. What kind of face do we have?
II. Furthermore, we see his Fellowship. Ex. 24:12-13; 33:9-11
Faith (Heb. 11:6) = for Fellowship = which strengthens faith...
When we fellowship with Him, we come to really know that He has our best in mind.
Psalms 139:17-18 (NKJV)
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
A group of broadcasters were holding a conference with some Russian Christians. One man asked how he could survive 32 years of Soviet labor-camp. He said:
"Brother, even a dersert looks like a flower garden when you are in communion with the Lord."
Joshua could be at rest with God's best, even through a 40 year mess - a time spent with rebellious, critical, and violent people - and yet inner fellowship with God!
III. Finally, we see his Fiddle. [It was second-fiddle!]
A. His Ambition - to fit into God's plan for his life (Ex. 24:13/Josh.11:15).
It was God's planfor Joshua to be under Moses thumb for 40 years! If his ambition would have been to be the boss, to have the preeminance, the top spot, he would have quit.
Joshua reminds me of a lady who was about to go as a missionary to China. Her close friend said to her, "What on earth are you going to bury yourself in China for? You'll never be able to take the climate - you'll be dead in six months.
She gentle responded, "My dear girl, I want you to know that five years ago I died. When Jesus called me to China, I bowed my head t the cross and died to everything except God and China.
Joshua for 40 years died to everything except God and Moses! That's not easy to do!
B. His Promotion.
His strawberry's finally came out!
Num. 27:16-18; 34:16-17/Deut. 1:38; 31:7; 34:9/ Josh. 1
When we honor God, He ultimately honors us (Josh. 3:7; 4:14/I Pet. 5:5-6)
Maybe your playing second-fiddle today? It seems as if your forgotten you? You have little or no influence? Don't worry about it, just make God your ambition and leave the promotion to His time-table. Gods best takes time.
Redpath, "Who can tell today for what God is preparing us? So often we murmur at the narrow round of daily duty. Too often we think we are worthy of something bigger. Our little sphere of service seems so inadequate and so unworthy.
But I want to say to you that every hour of it is essential if God would make you a man He can use. We must descend before we can ascend. In the kitchen of a little apartment in London the wife of a friend of mind has a little motto over the kitchen sink which reads like this: Divine service is conducted here three times daily."
Remember this life is just a preparation for eternity, so rest with God's best even in times of preparation.
1. So we have seen Joshua's Faith, Fellowship, and Fiddle.
2. Joshua, a man who was at Rest wiht God's Best, even when everything seems to be a Mess.
3. As a young man Charles Spurgeon was pondering his future. He was thinking of various alternatives especially related to his education. He said at that moment God spoke to his heart and said, "Seek thou great things for thyself? Seek them not!"
He said, "At that moment, I realized I would never go to Cambridge, and I would never amount to anything more than preaching to a congregation of two hundred people." He committed himself to doing God's will whatever it meant. Six months later, at the age of 19, he was preaching to 2,500 people every Sunday in London."
We never know what God might do...
Johnny Palmer Jr