The Man At The Door

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Joshua 5:13–15 ESV
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Tony Evans shared the story of a Texan who had a lot of property. He was proud of his holdings and looked for opportunities to let people know what he had. He was visiting France and he asked a French farmer the question, “How big is your farm.” The reason he asked was because he knew what the return question would be. The farmer said, “I have twenty acres, how many do you have?” The Texan said, “Let me put it to you this way. Just before the sun comes up in the morning I get in my truck to drive across my land. When the sun is going down in the evening, I still haven’t reached the end of my holdings.” The farmer replied, “I had a truck like that once.”
We are honoring graduates this morning. You are finishing something you have started. You entered in Kindergarten or 1st grade and now you are leaving one school to go to another. You entered High School and are preparing to go to college or out into the workforce.
This morning I want to ask you to think of some questions as you think about the future.

Who Will Be Your Friend?

First, as you meet new people, who be your friend?
When you go to this place, when you drive up to the building and enter the front door and may be even before you get to the front door, someone will be there to greet you.
This person may be an older person in their thirties or forties. It might be a student from the school or a younger person at work. You can expect that they will be dressed. Their clothes will tell you something about them. Clothes are symbolic of a person’s personality. Adam and Eve were clothed with animal skins provided by God. These clothes symbolized a hiding of nakedness. They had sinned and whereas before sin, nakedness was no big deal, after they sinned and God met them, they felt exposed. God covered them.
Or think of Joseph. His coat of many colors was just one more indication that Jacob lived him more than the other brothers. It was much more than a coat.
Clothes are symbolic of a person’s values and personality. But we will never understand the actual symbolic meaning of a person’s clothing choice until we know the person. It might be that their mother picked out their clothes that they detested.
First impressions can be wrong impressions.
This is true not only when you meet the person at the door, but with every person that you meet. Some of look at first glance to be good people often are not. Some who look like people to avoid may be the very people you want around. You don’t know until you know.
How do you know who is good and who is not?
That answer is tied into who you are. Who are you?
You might answer, “I don’t know…” That is a dangerous answer. What that says is that you are nothing right now but could become anything in the future. You could be a president or a serial killer.
You might answer, “I am an American, a student, and a member of my family.” That’s better, but something is missing.
If someone asks us who we are, our answer should be, “I am a Christian, I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ.”
If that is you, and I want to speak to Christians who are committed followers of Jesus Christ, this helps us know who on the campus or at the work place is good and who is not.
Joshua is looking at Jericho. This is the first battle Israel will fight under Joshua’s leadership. He is new at this. He is qualified. He watched Moses for about forty years. He was qualified but unproven.
Earlier he sent spies into the land to check out what they would face. He especially asked them to check out Jericho. With this as his first battle, with Jericho as a strong fighting force, we can understand the apprehension he might have faced as he looked to Jericho.
With God’s help Joshua led Israel across the Jordon river. But he had never led them into battle. He was the leader who is unproven and an unknown quantity.
He looks up and what does he see?
Joshua 5:13 ESV
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
Joshua sees a man standing in his way.
Joshua has a question for this man, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
Joshua didn’t know. The man is standing with a drawn sword. This stranger is ready for battle. Joshua is confused. Is this man there to fight with him or against him?
This is an important question to ask. If you are a Christian and walking into a High School, college or workplace you need to know who is for you and who is against you.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies, so this is not a call to roll up into a ball and escape. This is a call to recognize the influence people can have on your life.
1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV
33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Who your friends are, who you want to please, who you choose to love are all people who will shape who you are and what you do.
Check out the people who come across your path. Will they help you or hinder your walk with God?
If you are a Christian, you will care deeply about this question. And as a result, you will choose your friends wisely.

Who will help you?

Second, the question comes, “Who will help me?”
Joshua 5:14 ESV
14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”
What a relief! This man with the drawn sword was there to help Joshua. He was on Joshua’s side. Not only was he on Joshua’s side, he was the commander of God’s army! Who better to meet and have on your side before your first big battle than the commander of God’s army. When God is on your side, you are unbeatable!
Don’t mishear. Being unbeatable does not mean that there won’t be a battle. Joshua would face many battles. Not every battle would go as smooth as this one did. But Joshua could go with full assurance that he was in the center of God’s will and that whatever he faced, God would be there with him.
The answer to the question, “Who will help me?” is clear. The Lord will help you.
The Lord will help you…if you let him.
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
Joshua instantly falls to the earth and willingly submits to this new commander. One gets the sense that Joshua was relieved that he did not have to be in control. He was more than willing to do what the commander of the Lord’s army said. He was willing to serve the Lord.
In order to serve the Lord, he needed to know what the Lord wanted him to do. His question was, “What does my lord say to his servant?
We find the answer to this in the Bible. If we want God’s help we need to let him help us. If we want to find out what kind of help God will give, we need to search the scriptures.
If you are preparing to move on, nothing will help you more than doing Bible study on your own and with others. The entrance of God’s word will shed light on all you do. Knowing God and Jesus bring eternal life. Understanding the plan and purposes of God help give direction. The better you know the Bible, the better you are prepared to receive God’s help and enter the battle before you.
That is true only if you have a desire to obey. Give me one person with a willingness to obey and you can keep fifty people who are only willing to learn.
Obedience is not always easy. God often calls us to do unusual things.
Joshua 5:15 ESV
15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
What an amazing thing to say! If I had a battle to fight and I asked someone skilled in warfare the question, “What does my lord say to his servant…” I would expect an answer like, “How many people are in your army? How many people are in Jericho? How thick are the walls? What interesting tidbits of hot metal or other objects doe they have up on top of the walls? How prepared are your troops? Have you tried negotiation with the enemy?
What is said is,
15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Where was Joshua standing? Joshua was standing outside Jericho. Joshua was probably standing on dirt.
In the history of the church, we don’t consider dirt as holy ground. We make our floors nice inside the church. Our floors are wood covered with carpet. Others have elaborate tile. We walk in and admire the beauty. Our holy places are beautiful and expensive.
Joshua was standing on dirt and it was a holy place.
What made it holy?
What made it holy was that Joshua had an encounter with God on that spot. He does not put up a pile of stones or any memories of this spot, he just falls down in worship.
A holy place is a place that God has set aside for his purposes. God is everywhere. When you encounter God, you are standing on holy ground!
Joshua was standing on holy ground. He was at that place where God met him.
Some people don’t let God speak. They argue with God. They fight God. Job had some of that in his suffering. God comes at the end of the book and asks Job why he thinks God needs his advice? Job humbles himself before God. Joshua humbles himself before God.
Joshua was ready for God. He was ready for help. He was facing his first major battle and he knew he needed help.
When the commander of God’s army spoke to the commander of Israel’s army, the commander of Israel’s army obeyed. He took of his sandals because he knew that the place he was standing was holy ground.
This morning you are sitting on holy ground. God wants to speak to you this morning. He has asked me to deliver a message. I am nothing, but the word of God is God’s word. He is trying to speak to you.
In order for you to hear it, you need to humble yourself before the living God. As Joshua fell on his face, worshiped and obeyed, so we need to understand that what God says to us is serious business.
We think we can go from elementary school to high school as though it were a piece of cake. We think we are prepared for campus life and that we can go and learn and do great things.
What we often forget is that though high school, college and the workplace are great places to learn, not all that we are taught will be true and right. The Bible tells us that the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them. If this is true, and it is, then unbelievers are going to believe differently than what the Bible teaches because they don’t care about the Bible or they have read it, haven’t understood it, and have rejected it. You will find nice, friendly people that will encourage you to talk away from your Christianity. You will find people that are fun to be with that will encourage you to be sexually active. You will find teaching and philosophy from well-educated and very articulate people that will encourage you to believe differently than what is taught in the word of God. In other words, you will be engaged in spiritual battle.
According to a national survey almost 60% of college students drank alcohol in the last month with two out of three engaging in binge drinking. God does not what you to go down that road.
One survey indicated that 76% of students at a Washington State College had engaged in sexual activity. People lie on surveys so let’s say that it’s only 70%.
Please don’t tell me that you won’t face pressure in this area. Some real nice-looking person is going to come up to you with a smile on his or her face and say, “Would you like to disobey God?” That won’t be the actual words, but it will be there.
The Bible tells us to be careful when we stand, lest we fall. Don’t think for a moment that you will not be tempted in many areas.
Talk to those in the church who have gone before you. They will tell you that though their education or workplace experience was overall helpful, found a lot that was not godly. Some of it was not what was in the classroom or in the job, but what took place outside.
One might think that I am telling you that life is going to be horrible for you. That is not what I am trying to say at all. I am telling you that there will be spiritual battles and you need to walk into the next school or job prepared.
I am telling you that at this moment you are on holy ground. God is trying to speak to you. He will be with you and he will give you victory… if you trust him and are willing to do what he says.
You ask, “What does he want me to do?”
First, he wants you to worship him.
He wants you to say to God, “You are number one in my life. I want to live to please you.” If you don’t start there, you will never fall on your face and have the teachablity that comes with humility that you need. God can’t help you if you don’t want his help.
Second, he wants you to know his Word.
Psalm 1:1–6 ESV
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Everything Joshua does from this point on will be directed by the commander of the army of God. In other words, Joshua has relinquished control of his life to God. If God says to do something, he will do it. If God says, “Don’t do this,” he won’t do it.
When we are walking as Christians we need to hear directly from God. That is where the Bible plays such an important role.

Who is with you?

The third question is who will fight the battle with you?
We need to surround ourselves with other Christians.
Joshua 6:3 ESV
3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.
Joshua was not going to fight this battle alone. He was not going to fight this battle with him and God. He was going to fight this battle with God and all the men of war plus the priests.
The first week you are at your new school or are out in the workplace you should make it a priority to find other Christians.
Many college campuses have Cru, Navigators or other Christian groups. Just off campus are Bible-believing churches. Get connected.
Hebrews 3:13 ESV
13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
How can you get this kind of exhortation, this kind of encouragement if you are not rubbing shoulders with other believers?
When I was in the military there was a time I fell away from the Lord. I went to a church that geared their whole program around the radio. It was live, so everything had to fit into that hour slot. I didn’t like it. On Sundays I would stay in bed, read a couple of verses out of the Bible and then turn on Roller Derby. Sunday morning, I spent watching people smash one another as they went around in circles. It wasn’t until I started going to church again and got involved with other Christians that my spiritual life got back on track. I didn’t do anything particularly bad during that time, but I did nothing for God, nothing of eternal value. It wasn’t until I joined with other Christians that God was able to move in my life.

What is your response?

Fight the battle. Listen to God. Connect with other Christians. Then go out and live as a Christian.
After the school shooting in Parkland, Fl., some of the students became emboldened to advocate for stricter gun laws. One day they were normal students, the next day they were students with a cause.
A group of teachers were distressed about their pay. One day they were in the classroom, then next day they were activists in North Caroline, Colorado, Oklahoma and other places.
We would love to see some activist for Jesus Christ.
If you love him why not sing his praises? If you are a follower of Jesus, don’t hide that light under a bushel basket. Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father which is in heaven.
We live in a nasty world. Everyone has a bad word to say about everyone else. What would happen if a group of Christians decided to drop the personal attacks and negativity that pervades our world and decided to stand up for Jesus and do so with so much love for other people that even the world would glorify our Father in heaven!
God can use you to introduce others to the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. This Jesus hates sin but loves sinners. He came to help them, not hurt them. A lot of students and teachers in high school and college have never been introduced to the real Jesus. You know him. Set the record straight!
If you find a Christian in your work place, connect with them. If they are born again, don’t look at their denomination. That is important within a local church, but in front of the world we need to support one another.
Fight the good fight of faith. Take up the cause. Live for Jesus. John Monsell wrote a poem entitled, “Fight the Good Fight With All Thy Might.” We don’t sing this hymn, but listen to the words.
Fight the good fight with all thy might!
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace, Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face; Life with its way before us lies, Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide; His boundless mercy will provide; Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove Christ is its life, and Christ its love.
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near, He changeth not, and thou art dear; Only believe, and thou shalt see That Christ is all in all to thee.
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