— Brother Phil Enlow: Well, I feel more keenly than usual this morning, that the Lord is trying to make me walk in what I’ve been thinking about. Imagine that! And I feel, in one sense, like I’m saying the same things over again, but I feel the need in my own heart, and I believe it’s not just me. I believe the Lord wants to help us, in deeper ways, right where we’re at.
You know, one of the verses that we occasionally use, and we often use it to encourage people not to miss gathering together, but there’s another thought and I’m just gonna use it by way of introduction in Hebrews 10, where he says in verse 25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” (NIV).
But what is the purpose of that? You know, I think a lot of times, we may feel like the purpose of that is, well, Christians just need more information. You know, we need to…we don’t know stuff, and there’s a certain amount of that. Obviously, we need to grow in our knowledge. But the reality is, we know a lot of stuff we’re not walking in, and we need to grow up in our walking.
But in order to do that, that’s where the next part of this comes in. It says, “…but let us encourage one another….” So, you know, it seems rather significant that the Lord would put that and the same thought in many other places in scripture. Why would He do that? Why would He tell us that there’s a need to encourage one another if there were not things that were naturally discouraging, if there were not a need?
And encouragement is not just about, hey, you don’t know stuff. This is, you know things, but don’t give up. Don’t let opposition get in your way. And, I mean, how many find yourself in that place very often, where the issue is not what we know, the issue is, are we walking in it? Are we really continuing to trust God and putting one foot in front of another, and doing what Paul said, pressing forward?
A lot of times we get parked, don’t we? Or we even begin to slide backward or, anything other than simply moving forward and doing what the Lord wants. We know from scripture, many, many places, that the Christian walk is a fight. Now, how many of you just love to fight? I mean, you want life to be tough! No, that’s not our nature, is it? We want to find that pathway of smoothness.
And we hear about coming to Christ and having peace in our hearts and joy and all of that, and it’s awfully easy to mistake that reality, that truth, and to kind of mix it up and project it onto…our life should be wonderful, our life should be smooth. We should be able to…if we hit a problem, we ought to be able to snap our fingers, throw a proof text at it and it should just vanish into thin air.
How many of you have it work out that way, in your heart? No. It isn’t that way. It’s not realistic. And we need to understand what it’s really like and know what God is trying to accomplish in us. Boy, am I speaking to myself today! The Lord allows me to go through things and experience my own weaknesses so that I feel like I’m one of you, because I am, for starters.
But you know, I guess I thought of one scripture, that perhaps is a kickoff point. It says much the same thing. But it’s in the beginning of Joshua. And Joshua has just lived under the leadership of, undoubtedly, the greatest prophet in the Old Testament, Moses. This…Moses was a man who knew God. He had his problems, too, but he was a man who saw the Lord face to face. I can’t imagine what that must be like. But I mean, there was a knowledge, there was a communion, there was an authority, there was a power in him, in spite of mistakes that he made. But still, there was a reality there.
And you know, you think about…oh, my God, Moses…we’ve always got him to look to. Now, all of a sudden, Moses is dead. And okay, Joshua, lead them. Who, me? How many of you have ever felt, in that situation, where suddenly something fell upon your shoulders and you’re looking at your capabilities and you’re saying, wait a minute, something’s going on here. I’m missing my…my crutch is gone! All of a sudden, I’ve got to actually start trusting God. Imagine that.
So anyway, the Lord is speaking in verse 2. He says, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites…I will give you every place where you set your foot….”
Now, I want to make this comment. Most translations, and I think correctly so, translate it as, ‘every place you put your foot I have given you.’ I don’t know why they did that here, but that needs to be known. That needs to be understood. I think the King James has it that way, but there are other modern translations that do as well. In fact, I think the NLT does, and the ESV, so anyway, just for information.
But, this is something that God had determined. I mean, this is a God who operates outside of time and He can, as we’ve said many times, He can call those, “…things that are not as though they were.” And so, this is an example of God saying, I have already given you, but you’re gonna…you have a part to play in this. You’re gonna have to put your foot down on this, but when you do that, know that I have given it to you, so you’re not just simply stepping out in a presumptuous way.
And boy, the devil is good at telling us we’re being presumptuous, or there’s some reason why we can’t have what God has told us we have. But, those are the things that we need to overcome.
And so, anyway, He’s reiterating the promise. And He says, “Your territory….” He begins to define it, as to where all it’s going to be. And then He says, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Boy, that sounds pretty encouraging, doesn’t it? Do you know that’s the heritage of every believer? This is not just for the special ones that are up here, somewhere. This is a promise of God to me, first of all. It’s a promise of God to every single child of God, that you are precious to Him! You are special to Him!
He has given us a legacy in Christ, where we have a position that is not down here, under the circumstances, but it is up here, seated on the throne with Him! Praise God! I’m gonna encourage myself whether you get it or not, because I need this.
(congregational amens ).
But, “Be strong….” Now, He tells them all of this and then has to continually exhort, in the same kinds of language. “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Again, “Be strong and very courageous.”
I mean, why is He repeating this so much? Think about that. Do you think there just might be a need? Do you see why the Lord would emphasize how that the major reason we get together is not simply to pour out more information, it is to encourage us?
Because every single one of us, that knows the Lord, is in a battle, or if you aren’t, you will be. That is the course of the Christian life. We are to, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” And, “Take hold of the eternal life.” Nothing I’m saying here this morning is new, is it? But how many of you need this, today?
( congregational amens ).
Yeah! Yeah, we need this every single day. And we need this truth so impressed upon us so that we can stand, so that we’re willing to do what He says to do. I mean, this is not a push-button, automatic kind of faith that He’s talking about here. Okay?
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey….” So, there’s an admonition to walk in the revelation of the word that they had.
“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Now, this is not talking about a ‘prosperity gospel’ kind of success. This is talking about success in entering into and laying hold of what God had given. You get that?
( congregational amens ).
In other words, success for us is gaining mastery over ourselves, learning how to serve God, learning how not to operate under the dominion of devils, where they have holds in our lives—strongholds. God wants to set people free from all of that. That’s what we need to lay hold of. That’s the success that God is looking to give every single one of us. Okay? Now, He can bless in other ways, but that’s not the main aim of what He’s trying to accomplish in us.
Then He says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.”
Okay, Lord, You’re getting repetitious here. But do you see the need? Do you feel the need? There has to be constantly, because there are things that we have to overcome, that don’t just…they’re not just circumstances. It’s how they affect us.
Jesus went through everything that we would go through, felt every pressure that you and I will ever feel, and more, but yet it didn’t defeat Him. See, that’s what victory is all about. That God is wanting us to have that same kind of courage, to be able to stand, and not to do what He’s just about to say.
“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged….” And I think the word that I went back to in my mind probably comes from the King James. Don’t be dismayed. And I guess if I had to put a title, for the sake of the ladies who want this, “Do Not Be Dismayed.” And, my God, how many of you’ve wrestled with this? How many of you have a problem with this?
( congregational amens ).
Yeah. Every single one of us! So, that’s why this is not just something that we need for mere information. My God, if you are dismayed, there’s a reason.
Now just think about the reasons. I mean, I don’t know that I’m gonna just make this participatory. I’ve had…I’ve gone all around the map on this thing this morning, trying to get organized and saying, there’s no way. I don’t feel like I can get it organized. Lord, is this really You? I mean, it’s been a real battle. The Devil just doesn’t want this. It’s such a simple thing.
And this is not about a performance in a sermon. This is about a reality that you and I deal with every day. But you think about the battles that they had to fight. They were looking at literal enemies. And they were going in against walled cities, and at least some of the inhabitants were giants!
Now, if a real giant walked in here we’d go, whoa! I mean, if you saw somebody that was somewhere between nine and ten feet tall and was a warrior, that would get your attention, real quick. I mean, you get somebody that’s seven feet tall, that gets your attention, let alone nine plus! And we’re supposed to…we’re supposed to go in there.
We don’t have bazookas. They didn’t know what those were, in those days, all the weapons that we have. They were gonna do it with clubs and spears and arrows. And they’re gonna go in against these kinds of…this kind of opposition. And they’re expected to prevail in it!
Now, folks, if we look at the circumstances, if we look at the realities of what we are expected to overcome, what do you think our response is going to be? If that’s what your focus is on, how’s that gonna make you feel? What’s that gonna do for your confidence, put in simple terms? Man, there ain’t no way! I can’t handle this! This is ridiculous! I’m way in over my head!
How many of you have gone far enough with the Lord where you’ve learned that God’s ways will continually put you in over your head? And He doesn’t do it to bring us to a place of defeat. He’s telling us, don’t be that! So there’s got to be a reason why we shouldn’t look at an impossible situation and be defeated by it.
But nonetheless, we are! We look at every kind of circumstance and situation and say, I cannot possibly overcome this. And of course, the problem with us is, it’s not just the enemy out there. The enemy that I have the biggest trouble with is this one. And I am more conscious, the farther I go, with the simple reality that…the fact that it’s just amazing what God has set Himself to do!
The more I realize what I’m made of and what I’m really like…you know, I feel like most of us feel like we’re basically good people. Good luck with that! If you put any one of us…you remove the Lord from the equation, you put any one of us in just the right circumstance, you would see incredible wickedness and ugliness come out, because it’s there!
( congregational amens ).
It’s there! A lot of people have learned to civilize it and cover it up and pretty it up and make…and all of that, but I’ll tell you, there is a depth here that you and I do not understand. We don’t realize the depth of our need, but we’ve got Somebody who does! Praise God!
I’m so glad that when we face the realities of what we’re up against, in the Christian life, it’s, oh my God, am I glad, the further I go, that it isn’t up to my resources to do something about it! Oh, the hope that God has given to us because Jesus Christ went to that cross in my place! Oh, He didn’t just remove my guilt, He removed me! When He died, I died!
But oh, just sharing that information, what does that do for you, apart from, oh, isn’t that great? I’ll tell you, you and I are gonna…the only way we’re gonna get hold of that information is in the field of battle. And how many of you have been round and round and round and round and round and round and round the same mountain? And the Lord is right there.
You know, it was mentioned this morning how patient He is. Oh, my God, the incredible patience of the Lord! And how easy it is for us just to get bogged down. I know one of the biggest things that gets me, is just a repetitive issue. I know I’m the only one here!
But there’ll be some issue where I just continually don’t do what I ought to do and it’s just, God, help me! God, is this ever gonna change? Will I ever gain the freedom? I know that there’s freedom. I know You paid it all! I know that You have promised to carry me all the way! I’m banking on that, Lord, because the more I’ve discovered about me, the less confidence I have in me. My confidence is entirely in You.
You’ve told me You’re willing and all of that, but oh, God, the effects of my own shortcomings, on my confidence, they’re not very good. There are so many aspects to this. I don’t even know where to go with it. Like I said, I just couldn’t seem to find the freedom to get anything organized, which is probably all right. But I’ll tell you what, facing our own…that’s the biggest one for me, facing my own shortcomings, yet again, yet again.
And, you know, one approach, and I mentioned this recently, and that’s coming to the place…one of the problems…let me back it up and say it. One of the problems is that we are trying to do something in our own strength. That’s what…that’s one thing God is trying to teach us. And as long as we are ‘trying,’ we are not trusting. God wants to bring us to a place where we will suddenly get it through our thick skulls, God, this really is impossible! If it’s ever gonna change, You are gonna have to do it in me.
But you know, you can jump into the other ditch. I kind of experienced that, recently. Okay, Lord! I give up! You’re gonna have to do this. Now, put this in terms of battles that Joshua would have fought. Suppose they had gone in their own strength, and made their own battle plan, and they had gone up against a city and just beat themselves up and beat themselves up and there it was and they couldn’t break through, they couldn’t win the victory!
And suddenly, they realized, oh God, You promised it! Okay, Lord, You take care of it. And then gone on back and sat there, under trees, drinking iced tea, or whatever they drank. Lord, You’re gonna take care of it.
God is bringing us to a perfectly balanced partnership, where we do what He has said, and face every foe and every enemy, especially the ones in here, but in every detail, when we do it, there is always that sense, Lord, not I, but Christ.
You know, I’ve mentioned more than once, recently, the issue of the will. And I’ll guarantee, with every one of us here, there are areas of besetting sins, weaknesses, where the issue is not whether we can be delivered. The issue is do we want to be delivered?
( congregational response ).
If we’re being honest. There is enough of an attachment to our particular sin…it may not be robbing banks or something out there where everybody can see it, but there is a particular attachment to it, where we can say, oh, God, help me, help me, help me, and then when He comes we don’t…we say, wait a minute.
You know, I used the scripture Wednesday night…Danny and I both used it, in Romans 12, where the Lord talks about how we’re transformed, we’re changed. There’s a renewing of our minds. And I looked it up in the Greek, just out of curiosity. And the main definition for renewing was renovation.
Now, how many of you have seen shows where they fix up houses, fixer uppers and that kind of stuff? Buy an old, junky house and fix it up and try to make money off of it. Well, the lady, of course, walks in and says, well, that wall’s got to go. You know, look at the space we could have here. Renovation…you’re gonna go into a house and you’re gonna change stuff.
Our problem is, we don’t want to be changed. Particularly, that closet! Don’t you dare even open the door to that closet! I’ve got stuff in there I don’t want anybody to know about.
Do you know what the Lord is gonna keep on doing, because He loves us? He is gonna keep on renovating. He’s gonna bring about circumstances where sooner or later we’re gonna have to face that issue.