Summary: Today's message is a part of our Practical Faith sermon series. It is taken from Joshua's last words to the people, in how they were to create an environment of faith to be welcoming to God in their pursuit of His presence and promises.
“Creating an Environment of Faith”
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Today we’re ending our 3 part series in the book of Joshua as part of our larger series on Practical Faith. Our study today will look at the end of Joshua’s life and the campaign to take back the Promised Land, and hopefully from our study we’ll learn how we can create an environment for our faith to grow and mature as we move forward into the promises of God.
To pursue the presence of God, it’s vital we create an environment of faith within our lives and the church. The key is remembering that we cannot pursue God’s presence where God’s presence doesn’t reside. So we need to create an environment that welcomes God.
Now, please understand, not only does it take faith to enter into God’s presence, as the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith,” but it also takes faith to remain there.
The Bible tells us
• By faith Abraham was declared righteous, and by faith not only are we saved, but we are sanctified, and justified as well.
• By faith we extinguish Satan’s fiery darts, we are delivered from the mouth of lions, and by faith we overcome the world.
• By faith healing takes place, nothing is impossible, and finally, it’s by our faith that God is pleased.
Therefore it’s by faith that we’re to live our lives and it’s by faith that we draw near to God.
But conversely our lack of faith displeases God and prevents Him from moving mightily in our lives (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5-6). And it was a lack of faith that prevented the Jewish people from entering into the Promised Land on the first go around.
The writer of Hebrews said, “‘Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews is quoting the Lord through the prophet Habakkuk telling us not to be like that generation of Jews who started out by faith but fell away. Even though God promised them the land of Canaan, they never set foot inside of it, but instead died in the wilderness because of their lack of faith.
Further, faith is more than merely saying we believe in God. The Bible says that even the demons believe, yet they tremble in fear because they’re not saved (James 2:19).
Also, faith that doesn’t act upon what it says it believes, is a dead faith (James 2:16). Real faith is when our hearts draw near to God and receive His promises and acts accordingly.
The writer of Hebrews talks about this group of Israelites who didn’t enter.
“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” (Hebrews 4:2 NKJV)
They clearly heard and understood what God had promised, but their hearts didn’t receive it by faith, and that’s because they didn’t create within their hearts an environment by which faith could grow and be nurtured.
We can know all about what the Bible says, but it must find an atmosphere where its power can be released. It’s this environment of faith that is missing, which is why many are falling back into the world and their old way of life. They never created an environment of faith within their lives and within their homes.
This faith environment is revealed in Joshua’s parting words to the next generation that made it in. Twenty years have now passed from the time they first entered into the Land, and Joshua is still speaking about God’s faithfulness saying that not one of God’s promises have failed (Joshua 23:14).
By faith Joshua drew near to God, and by faith remained there.
“Now it came to pass, a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old, advanced in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: "I am old, advanced in age.” (Joshua 23:1-2)
What they were about to hear, and what we’re about to look at is sound advice from a leader who has lived through it all, and is now passing down the secret of creating an environment for faith to grow and mature.
The first thing to create an environment of faith is to
1. Remember God’s Past Intervention