Summary: Do we dare pray as boldly as Joshua? What should you be demanding of God?
“Xtreme Faith: Demanding the Impossible”
If confession is good for the soul, then my soul should feel good this morning. Over the years I’ve asked God to do some pretty amazing things. But after encountering Joshua, I must admit that I’m not sure I’ve ever asked God for the impossible – let alone demanded it. I’ve limited my faith to the probable, the likely, the difficult but doable requests and challenges. Therefore the God I’ve represented, the God whose glory I want to show, has been limited. So I’ve learned from Joshua – and am eager to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
I’ve learned, first of all, THE MARKS OF A FAITHFUL PERSON. Joshua, like most of us, learned faithfulness the hard way. Marching around Jericho until the walls fell, and then destroying it, was easy. It went as God had scripted it. But then Joshua attacked Ai and was defeated – only then did he realize he had followed his script and not God’s. Once he followed God’s strategy Israel defeated Ai. But then, because he failed to consult God, he was duped into making a treaty with the neighboring Gibeonites. He quickly discovered that he had been deceived, but reacted as a person of faith. He demonstrated his INTEGRITY OF HEART. He did not destroy them. And when the Gibeonites learned that they were to be attacked by a coalition of enemies because of their association with the Israelites, they approached Joshua and asked for help. Even though Joshua knew he should not have entered into the treaty, he honored his word that he would protect them. He was faithful to his word and God honored him for his faithfulness – for God, too, keeps His word. When we have integrity, when we are faithful to our word, we experience God’s integrity and faithfulness.
Concerning the coalition of enemies, God said to Joshua (8), “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” Think about it – if God stands behind a covenant between Israel and the Gibeonites that should not have been made, will He not much more stand behind His covenant when his people are faithful? That’s what Joshua believed, so Joshua then demonstrated ENERGY FROM THE PROMISES of God. He launched a surprise attack during the night. Verse 9 – “After an all night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise.” The march was not easy; it was a long journey from Gilgal to Gibeon and was uphill all the way. But under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites marched on to victory. God faithfully responds to faith.
While he was a pastor in Houston John Bisango described a time when his daughter Melodye Jan, age five, came to him and asked for a doll house. John promptly nodded and promised to build her one, then he went back to reading his book. Soon he glanced out the study window and saw her arms filled with dishes, toys, and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile of playthings in the yard. He asked his wife what Melodye Jan was doing. “Oh, you promised to build her a doll house, and she believes you. She’s just getting ready for it.” “You would have thought I’d been hit by an atom bomb,” John later said. “I threw aside that book, raced to the lumber yard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a doll house. Now why did I respond? Because I wanted to? No. Because she deserved it? No. Her daddy had given his word, and she believed it and acted upon it. When I saw her faith, nothing could keep me from carrying out my word.” We demonstrate energy from the promises of a faithful God.
Yet Joshua was just getting started in his bold faith. Note the third mark of a faithful person – Joshua demonstrated CLARITY OF COURAGE. He knew that if God promises victory then God will do whatever was necessary to bring about that victory. So as night was about to fade into daylight, thereby exposing Israel’s approach, Joshua demanded the impossible. Verse 12: “On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the valley of Aijalon.” Did you catch that? He told – demanded – the sun to stand still. How did he dare do that? Joshua had Xtreme Faith in an Xtreme God for whom nothing is too hard or impossible. God created and rules His world; He is not bound by its laws; the world, the entire creation, is His servant. This knowledge, coupled with God’s promise of victory, armed Joshua with courage – it was clear God would do whatever was necessary to bring about that victory, even if it meant stopping the sun in its tracks! As Steven Furtick asks, could it be that God intends for us to have the same kind of audacious faith as a normal way of life?