Sunday am 16 July 2017 – Johan Esterhuizen

Ps. 1:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:5-8; Josh. 1:8; (James 3:5-8); Col. 3:17;  Prov. 3:5-6; Ps. 118:8; 2 Chron. 20:17; Acts 27:9-17; John 10:10; (Matt. 13:3-8); (Luke 8); Ps. 119:105

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law, he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers (Ps. 1:1-3).

Count your blessings. Life happens and things go wrong; things we never planned and there are betrayals and disappointments, but we have to come to the place where we learn to count our blessings. God is good. If ever there was a time that Christian character should be displayed, it is now. It stems from the attitude of gratitude.

Faith grows through trusting God. The apostle Peter tells us to be partakers of divine nature. That sounds impossible and hard, but it is possible if we with ‘all’ diligence add to our life, add to our faith. Faith is a given thing as God has dealt every man a measure of faith. It is a fruit of the Spirit and we have to cultivate it. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love, for if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-8). There are at least six characteristics of each of these qualities. It is a journey and I have to apply these on a daily basis to my life. The key to success is for us to add these qualities to our lives. Many leaders in our country have destroyed with their character what they have built with their talent. We have the assurance of success when we add these eight qualities to our lives.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Josh. 1:8). Good success is when we take our talents, our gifts and our abilities and we sow them back into the lives of others to make a difference and add value to them and to serve God with our gifting. Life is not just about you. As we reach out to others and we serve God we grow and our character develops. These eight qualities we are reading about are for us to be salt and light. It is the mandate that has been given to us. The Lord shares with Joshua three important issues here about the word of God. Moses had died; the baton has been handed over. Joshua and Caleb had to lead the nation to possess the land; a nation that is greater, stronger more organised and that has armies. They have a bunch of slaves that have been wondering for forty years in the wilderness. They have no infrastructure and the Lord says, “I want you to possess the land”.  God said the battle is His, but the victory is theirs. We see the account of Jericho and what God did. A few times God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous. Of course, you have to be strong and courageous in the midst of your enemies, but He says be strong and courageous to do what is written in My word. Three things I shared from Joshua, “This word shall not depart from your mouth”. The mouth is a very powerful tool. James tells us that few people control the mouth (James 3:5-8).  We have to come to the place where our words are seasoned with the Word of God. Our words are to be directed by the Word. This Word of the law shall not depart from your mouth and you shall meditate therein day and night.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1). There is a decline in motion, you first of all walk in the way of sinners, then you come to the place where you stand, then you come to the place where you sit. There is no longer motion. Notice the decline, the compromise. The godly are not so, they meditate on the Word day and night. Listen to the contrast from walk, stand and sit. You shall bear fruit in your season. You have to understand that your harvest will come. You have to trust God that your harvest will come. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17). Who do you receive your reward from? You will bear fruit in your season. Your leaf shall not wither outside of season, outside the prosperous time. God will continue to supply, even in your old age, God will continue to supply. Whatever you do shall prosper. Maybe you have come to the place where you are sitting? It is time to get up, leave and start to meditate upon God’s Word.

The biggest lesson we can learn in life and continue to learn is to trust in the Lord (Prov. 3:5-6). I want to give you a tremendous Biblical illustration of how faith grows through trust. It is better to put your trust in God than to put your confidence in man (Psalm 118:8). That is the verse in the centre of the whole Bible. Here is the core issue of our lives, the centre pivot – trust in God and not in man. People will disappoint and betray you. It is better to put your trust in God than your confidence in princes. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you (2 Chron. 20:17). This is the centre of the Old Testament, do not fight them.  Go and tell Joshua that the Amalekites and the Amorites are all coming against you. They are like the locusts of the field, they are coming to fight and the Lord tells Joshua not to fear.  The Bible says Joshua feared for they were surrounded. He calls a prayer meeting. Really Joshua, this is not the time to pray but it is time to round up the army, get the generals together and form a strategy. But in sack cloth and ashes they sought the face of God. While they are seeking the Lord, this prophetic word comes forth. “You will not need to fight”. He sends the worship team first and they worshipped God in the beauty of Holiness. They were getting excited and had a praise and worship meeting and the enemy became confused. Praise confuses Satan when he is giving you a hard time. A tremendous miracle happened. God sets an ambush and they turned on each other. It is better to trust God than to put your confidence in man and here the king trusted God and what was the result? Victory! That is in the middle of the Old Testament.

What is in the middle of the New Testament?  Paul was going to Rome but before he could sail the Lord spoke to him and warned him not to go. There is going to be a storm and the boat was going to sink. He said lives could be in danger (Acts 27:9-17). The captain of the boat says he has been sailing for years and it is safe even though Paul said it was not. The Scripture says; nevertheless, the centurion believed the word of the captain and not the word of Paul, in other words not the word of God. He put his trust in man and not God and the result was a shipwreck. Faith grows through trusting God. Faith will produce results when you are trusting God. It is awesome that in the middle of the Bible it says to trust in God and not in man. In the middle of the Old Testament, it shows you what happens when you trust God and not man. In the middle of the New Testament, it shows you what happens when you trust man and not God.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). I have asked people what it is that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy and I have had various answers. Some said, “My health” or “My money” and some say “My family” or “My joy”. I believe there is a deeper issue. In the parable of the soil, Jesus tells the story of the sower who went out to sow seed. As he scattered the seed some fell by the wayside and the birds of the air came and took it. Others fell on shallow soil and the seed sprang up and because of the sun and the lack of the depth, the seed was destroyed. Others fell among thorns and when it came up the thorns choked it. Others fell on the good soil and it produces 30, 60 or 100 fold (Matt. 13:3-8). The meaning of this parable is fantastic. In Luke’s account (Luke 8) the seed that was sown is the Word of God.  Sometimes seed falls on the hard path, people’s hearts are hardened. Jesus says that it is not that they do not have understanding; but rather they do not want to understand. The seed is stolen; they come to a meeting and when they walk out, the seed is gone. The thief comes to steal and he steals the Word of God.  Some seed fell on the rocky soil. The Bible says with joy and with happiness they received the Word. They are excited and they are serving God but then things go wrong and because of persecution for the Word sake, things go wrong, the sun scorches and kills the seed. Seed fell among the thorns and the thorns came up they started to choke. Have you ever noticed choking is a gradual process?  And because of the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches, the seed is destroyed. The one who hears the word of God and does the word of God shall produce 30, 60 and 100 fold. He shall produce in his season, out of season and whatever he does shall prosper.  I do not believe this is a theory, but this is what the Word of God teaches. Our faith grows as we apply the Word of God. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Ps. 119:105). Apply it and God will do it.

In this life God has given us talents, gifts and abilities to become the person He wants us to be, I have to maximise those. God did not make a mistake when He created you; He created you with tremendous potential and tremendous gifting and talents. Find, use and develop them. Faith grows through trusting in the Lord.