Summary: Three blessing killers and three things that opens the windows of heaven.
“When Easy Become Impossible and the Impossible Becomes Easy”
November 20, 2011
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, 5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.”
Have you ever had a bad day? Have you ever been in a spot in your life where nothing went right? Ever have a time when it seemed the windows of heaven were closed and God wasn’t listening to you? We all go through times like that – sometimes it is just a ‘down’ day for us. Sometimes it is nothing more than a naturally bad day. But sometimes God really isn’t listening. Sometimes it may be God IS withholding His blessing from us. This morning I want to suggest three things that are blessing killers in our lives and three things that will open the windows of heaven for us.
The first blessing killer is sin – or disobedience. In our Scripture, one man sinned and hindered the whole nation. One man was responsible for the death of many. One man prevented God from blessing a nation.
Imagine this scene. The army had done the impossible. They had just conquered Jericho – with the Lord’s help. Jericho was suppose to be impossible to penetrate – but the walls came tumbling down and the weapons were marching, singing and blowing on trumpets. Now they faced the little ol’ town of Ai. “Piece of cake”, they thought. Not everyone has to go fight. There are just a few of them. But then they were soundly thrashed. Their faith must have been severely shaken. Joshua fell to the ground in prayer, tore his clothes and threw dirt on himself in anguish. He was like that all day. Then the Lord came.
“The LORD said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
There is a spiritual principle here that we had better learn. And that is that God will not hear us if we are in a rebellious relationship with Him. These people, or a least one of them, violated his covenant with God. They had stolen and they lied. And God appears to be impatient with Joshua. He seems to find his prayer – almost offensive. God doesn’t want to hear us praying for His help when we are in rebellion with Him. Listen to His Word.
“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”
God said, “What are you doing down on your face?” I think the principle here is before we get down on our knees we better see what is down in our heart. If there is sin – there is one prayer that God wants to hear from our lips – and that is the prayer of confession and repentance.
When it seems your prayers are not being answered first test yourself. In the New Testament the Word says,
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…” 2 Corinthians 13:5
It would be wise for us to periodically test ourselves spiritually. Are we living up to God’s Word? We have this unique human ability to justify our actions, rationalize our choices – and even convince ourselves the truth is a lie and a lie is the truth. Consequently, we must test ourselves against the Word of God to see if there is any sin in our lives. If there is – there will be no blessing until it is dealt with.