Sermons

Summary: When our needs are real, we want genuine answers, not just appeasements. Look to self-esteem, look to the resources already present, and look to the Lord of victory for real answers.

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When you need something, and you ask for it, what do you expect? Do you expect an answer or an appeasement? Do you expect a clear-cut, usable answer to your request, or are you satisfied if you are just told, well, have a nice day? When you need something, and you ask for it, which really satisfies you: an answer, or an appeasement?

Answers give you what you really need. Appeasements just make you feel good at the moment, without solving anything.

The other day I called our bank. Margaret and I are planning a trip to Europe, and I wanted to arrange for our finances. Somewhere I had read that it is no longer necessary to carry a lot of cash or to convert dollars into foreign currency, because you can get money from Automatic Teller Machines over there. But I wanted to be sure, so I called the bank. I asked the service representative, "Can I use my ATM card in Germany?" And she said, "You can use your card at any of our banks anywhere." Hmm. Any of our banks anywhere. Does that mean you have bank branches in Germany, and, if you do, are there a good many of them? Will I be able to find one when I need it? "I don’t have that information, sir." Well, all right, I figured I had other ways to find that out, so then I asked, "Can the card be used in the branches of other banks that might be in one of the networks; bottom line, can I get Deutschmarks on my card?" The response was, "They haven’t sent us that information yet, sir. But I’m sure you’ll be all right; I hope you have a great trip!" Now, let me ask you: did I get an answer or an appeasement? Am I now a happy camper who can confidently run off to Germany with $10 in his pocket and a piece of plastic in his fist? I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I think I got an appeasement, not a real answer.

When you need something, and you ask for it, what do you expect? Do you expect an answer or an appeasement? Do you expect a clear-cut, usable answer to your request, or are you satisfied if you are just told, well, have a great trip?

This week the shoe was on the other foot. One of you called me and asked for information on how to deal with an Alzheimer’s patient. Was there anything I could share about nursing homes, assisted living, support groups, and the like? Did I have any way to help? Well, now, what did this person want? Hard answers or sympathy? Real, solid information, or oozy, unctuous soft nothings? Well, since I didn’t have very much information, I was very tempted to go into my spiritual act. “Oh, you poor thing, how tough it must be for you! Oh, you poor thing, let me just sit here and listen to you." There is always the lure of trying to make someone feel as though you’ve helped, when in fact all you did was to apply a Band-Aid. But people deserve to be helped, really helped, not just made to feel good at the moment. People want answers, not appeasement.

By the way, I did come up with some information by the end of the week!

The people of Israel had been well served by Joshua as he led them up from the wilderness wanderings and the foot of Mt. Nebo, where Moses had died. Town after town had been taken, king after king defeated.

Essentially the conquest of the land was over; victory was assured. Now the agenda was changing. Now the job was to parcel out the spoils, to allot to each tribe and each family the land that would belong to them. The plan was that each of the twelve tribes, and in some cases, half-tribes and other great families, would get a fair share of the land, would live in it, and would develop it.

So the work went forward. Land for the tribe of Reuben, land for the tribe of Gad, land for the tribe of Judah; and so forth. And then, finally, land for Ephraim and Manasseh, the two half-tribes that made up the tribe of Joseph.

That’s when things broke down. That’s when Joshua’s leadership was challenged. And that, also, is when Joshua showed his true value as a leader, for Joshua gave them answers, real answers, not just appeasement, not just what they wanted to hear. I’d like us today to learn a leadership lesson from Joshua’s wisdom. How can we give people what they need, and not just what they want? How can we give them answers, not appeasement?

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