Summary: This sermon will help you condition your heart to live a victorious life for God.
Shaping Up for God!
What kind of shape are you in? We use the phrase “in shape” to refer to a person’s physical condition. When a person improves their physical condition we will say they are shaping up. Near the end of every summer, football coaches all over America will begin putting their teams through conditioning drills. They want them to be in top notch shape. Businesses cash in on the desire to be in shape. There are many gadgets advertised on television designed to help people get in shape. There are ab machines. There are riding machines. There are weight lifting machines. There is the bowflex that helps 50 year old grand mothers look like teenagers. When a person is in poor physical condition we will say they are “out of shape.“ I would like to use this concept as an analogy to learn a key concept in our spiritual lives. Are we in shape spiritually? Are you seeking to be “in shape” for the Lord?
What about a text? In Joshua 5 we find a text that will guide our thoughts. In this story the Israelites are in the promised land. They have crossed the Jordan River. They are standing at the edge of their first challenge after entering the promised land. They are standing at the outskirts of the city of Jericho. Before facing this challenge God put them through a conditioning program. God wanted them to shape up! God wanted to know they were ready for the challenges of the land.
Before dealing with the text we need to consider another preliminary matter. We need to think about desire. A person who is out of shape will not condition himself without a desire. A person who wants to lose weight will not do so without a desire. A person who wants to get out of debt will not do so without a desire. Even so, a person will not condition himself for God unless there is a desire. Do you have that desire?
If you have the desire you can learn from this text. From this text we see that the Israelites learned four key lessons. These four lessons enabled them to shape up for God.
The first lesson we must learn as we shape up for God is Subordination (vs. 2-9). A subordinate spirit is a spirit of submission or subjection to authority. God asked the Israelite people to do something that was difficult. He asked all of the males among them to be circumcised. Some of these men would have been approaching 40 years of age, based on a forty year wandering in the desert. Circumcision, among the Israelites, was normally performed when a child was 8 days of age. Such surgeries are much easier when performed as a child. A child heals faster. Thus, this was a very difficult task God was asking of them. According to Gen. 17 circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with the Israelites. To fulfill this act was to submit to an agreement with God.
God was not doing anything new. God has always asked His people to do things that (to the world) may appear difficult. He asked Noah to build an ark, one hundred and twenty years before the flood. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God asked Jeremiah and Isaiah to preach to a stubborn people. If we are to obey God we must learn the lesson of subordination.
Ill- We see this pricniple illustrated in the training of Arabian horses. These horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back and drink.
(Contributed to Sermon Central by: Dana Visneskie) This is subordination.
In the military, a solider who will not submit to orders is accused of insubordination. He will not submit to authority. Even so, God’s people must learn the importance of submitting to God’s direction. This lesson is called subordination.
A second lesson we must learn as we shape up for God is the lesson of Celebration. In our text we read in verses 10-11 where God asked the Israelites to celebrate Passover. Passover was a celebration of God‘s actions in leading these people from bondage in Egypt. The event was not the significant lesson. The significant lesson was the truth behind the event. The truth was that God loved these people and had provided for their needs.