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Summary: Is our church failing its potential? Has the great things we dreamed of not come about? Why is our ministry so weak?

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I. Introduction

A. Last Sunday I was asked what kind of program we could institute to help the church.

1. I didn’t have an answer then, but it started me to thinking

a. Then I remembered the words I had heard years ago from many pastors and teachers

b. Even the very best of programs will not be successful if the church is not spiritually right with God

c. And even the worst of programs can be extremely successful if the church is spiritually right with God

d. I am not putting down the question or the questioner in any way

(1) Perhaps it is the right question, I believe the intention is honest and pure

(2) But, is there another question that needs to be answered first?

2. In many churches the problem can be narrowed down to one principle

a. As I worked next to my pastor in Phoenix, he taught me one thing about God’s moving in churches. He said that there were times when it seemed that the Holy Spirit was about to do some great work in the church and then the whole thing would just die. Then later he would discover one or two people in the church had undisclosed, unconfessed and unrepentant sin in their lives.

b. He would say to me, there was an Achan in the camp.

3. One cannot tell if there is an Achan in the camp on there own, because some are expert in hiding their sin.

a. There are only two who really know what the problem is

(1) The individual

(2) And God

b. Chad Walsh, Leadership magazine made this statement, The true function of a preacher is to disturb the comfortable and to comfort the disturbed.

c. This morning I want to introduce you to Achan

B. The people of Israel had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

1. Moses was now dead

2. Joshua was the leader of the people

3. They had crossed the Jordan River and had the very spectacular conquest of Jericho

4. Now if you will turn to Joshua 6:18-19

Joshua 6:18-19 (NKJV)

"And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. {19} "But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."

a. The people of Israel were not to take any spoil of Jericho

b. Everything, people, clothing, animals, buildings, jewels, everything in Jericho was forbidden to the Israelites

c. The only thing that was to be taken was the silver, gold, iron and bronze articles

(1) These were to be in the treasury of the Lord

C. Now, after Jericho, Joshua was about to attack Ai

1. Now, Joshua sent spies to assess the vulnerability of Ai

a. Which is always a wise thing to do in battle

b. Commanders try to gather as much intelligence as possible

(1) To insure that his soldiers are given the best chance of winning an engagement with the fewest possible number of casualties

(2) I sat and listened to General of the Army Omar Bradley as he told us that the commanders that lost the fewest soldiers in any engagement was the ones he honored

c. So, Joshua was wise in sending the spies

d. And they reported that Ai was a small town

D. But something was amiss

1. As the army approached Ai, confident in their ability to prevail

a. They were surprised by the strength of the soldiers of Ai

b. And they turned tail and ran before the enemy

(1) 36 Israelite soldiers died, 36

(2) Well, Joshua had sent an army of 3, 000

(a) 36 is only 1.2% casualties

(b) But, it never should have happened

(c) Jericho was miraculously conquered without the loss of a single soldier

(d) And Jericho was a much larger city, more able to defend itself

i) Looking at Joshua 7:1 we see that

2. There was one problem at the time of the battle with Ai, there was an Achan in the camp

Joshua 7:1 (NKJV)

But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.

a. The cause of the failed assault against Ai was sin, terrible sin

(1) A soldier had stolen some things that had been given to the Tabernacle, that had been set apart and devoted to God and His service

(2) Not only that, but he had taken other things that had been forbidden, forbidden by God

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