The Joshua Principles #3
Years ago I heard the story of a Pastor who was preaching and casting the vision for the future of their congregation. He told them, “With God’s help we can see the day when this church will go from crawling to walking.” And the people responded, “Let the church walk, Pastor, let the church walk.”
He continued, “And when the church begins to walk, next the church can begin to run.” And the people shouted, “Let the church run, Pastor, let the church run!”
Fired up, he continued, “And finally the church can move from running to flying. Oh, this church can fly high for God!” The people were getting as wound up as the preacher and cried out, “Let the church fly, Pastor, let the church fly.”
Then the preacher said, “And friends, in order for this church to fly, it’s going to take lots of money. We’re going to have to dig deep and give greatly.”
The congregation grew quiet, and from the back, someone mumbled, “Let the church crawl, Pastor, let the church crawl.” (1)
This morning I want us to begin with crawling and see how we, as Joshua People, can begin to walk as Disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is the third in our series titled “The Joshua Principles. We talked about how Joshua People Always Look Forward With Hope. Last week we talked about how Joshua People Obey and Serve. Today I want us to look at the third Joshua Principle: Joshua People Study.
Let’s look at a couple of passages to see where I’m coming from.
Joshua 1:7-8 (NRSV)
 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go.
 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.
Psalm 119:10-18 (NRSV)
 With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.
 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.
 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.
 With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches.
 I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.
 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
 Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live and observe your word.
 Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
A. As we look at the passage from Joshua, we see right up front what God expects not only from Joshua but from the children of Israel as well. At this particular time all they had was the Ten Commandments and the other laws and precepts which God had given to Moses who passed them on to Joshua and the people.
God very clearly tells Joshua and the whole nation: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night.”God clearly thought the law was important in the life of the Israelites. If they follow it, if they meditate upon it and study it, they will prosper. It seem clear to me, that God wants each of us to have a strong Biblical foundation upon which to build our faith and discipleship.
There are really only two passages in Joshua which deal directly with study, this one, the command of God to meditate upon God’s Word both day and night and then a curious little scene found in chapter 8. It happens after the defeat of the city of Ai. Remember this was after their first failed attempt caused by the disobedience of Achan.
Once their relationship was re-established, they are successful. Joshua gathers the entire nation in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal with the Ark of the Covenant in the middle. With half the people on either side, Joshua not only made a copy of the law, but he read all of Scripture for the people to hear. He read every word so they would know and remember.
Christ Jesus is the foundation of both our faith and our discipleship. Scripture helps us build that foundation of faith in Christ. And the only way we can begin to develop and understand that faith is through Study. If we don’t study Scripture we might get skewed views of what faith is all about and who God truly is. Watch this and you’ll see what I mean.
[CLIP – DANIEL]
If we don’t study God’s Word, we might not get the whole picture.
A. I know what some of you are you’re probably thinking, you graduated from high school and college and maybe grad school and thought to yourself, “I hope I never have to study for anything ever again.”
Well, I’m not talking about that kind of study. When I talk about study I can promise you that you won’t have to write any term papers and there is no home work except what you choose to do.
However, I can tell you this, there will be testing along the way. Not testing over what you’ve studied. But the testing of your faith which all Christians face. And the amount of study which you have done and what you have absorbed will help you and strengthen you during that time of testing.
That’s why David could write what he did in Psalm 119. David found strength, comfort, guidance and encouragement in God’s Word.
As Scripture washes across us while we are reading, the Holy Spirit is present to lead and guide and help us understand. With the wisdom imparted through our study and through the Holy Spirit, God can, does and will encourage us. Through our study we build a pool, a reserve of Biblical wisdom and knowledge which bubbles up just when we need it most. But if we haven’t studied Scripture, there is no reserve to pull from. We don’t have the whole picture.
[CLIP – JONAH]
That’s also the cue for our first door prize. You were each give a ticket and we are going to have a drawing this morning. I believe so strongly in Bible Study that I’ve purchased prizes to help you study.
[FIRST DRAWING – BIBLE]
B. OK. Study will help us in our spiritual growth. In our relationship with God. In our relationship with each other. Bible study will help us in every aspect of life because our study usually always it translates into action.
A woman told the how her doctor had recommended surgery and referred her to a specialist. She arrived early, found the door unlocked and the young surgeon, deeply engrossed in reading, behind the receptionist’s desk. When he didn’t hear her come in, she cleared her throat. Startled, the surgeon closed the book, which she recognized as a Bible. So she asked, “Does reading the Bible help you before or after an operation?” He dispelled her fears by his soft-voiced, one-word answer: “During.” (2)
The study of Scripture translates into hope and faith and action. It moves us from being simply followers or believers into becoming disciples and servants. And that’s God’s goal for each of us.
But we won’t know that or discover that if we don’t have the whole picture.
[CLIP – DAVID]
That’s also the cue for our second door prize.
[SECOND DRAWING – SOFTWARE]
I hope you enjoy using those to study and get the whole picture.
A. Don’t be upset about not winning this morning because as Don Pardo used to say: “We have parting gifts for all our contestants.” You’ll see them in a moment. First, let me ask you this. Please be honest.
How many of you have ever made a resolution to read through the Bible, cover to cover?
How many of you have actually succeeded?
Or did you start in Genesis and get stuck in all the bloody sacrifices in Leviticus or all the begatting going on in the genealogy of Numbers. That’s exactly why I think the Bible is printed backward for Christians, especially new Christians. It should begin with the Gospels. The New Testament should come first. We need to learn what Jesus taught before we look at our history and get bogged down by all the confusing bits in the Old Testament. The Christian life is confusing enough.
I’m not saying get rid of it or that it has any less authority than the New Testament. But we want to learn about our faith and what Jesus expects. When we know that, then we can begin to understand how we got to this point.
B. So, how do we do this Bible Study thing? If you are a very disciplined person, you can read through the Bible in a year or three years and there are plenty of plans to do that. Basically you are asked to read 1 to 3 chapters a day until you get to the final Amen of Revelation. But that’s how most of us failed in reading through the Bible.
I have found a couple of different reading plans which I think are extremely more effective in drawing us into the Scripture where we can soak up all that wisdom, hope and encouragement.
1. The first thing you need is a Bible. And preferably one you can understand. I love Shakespeare. I especially love Hamlet. But if you don’t like to read Shakespeare and barely understand it in the best productions, then you need something other than the King James Version because it is written in the same style. So, find a translation you can understand.
The most scholarly translation is the one I read from every Sunday, the NRSV. Another good translation which is easy to read is the NIV. There’s also the CEV. And one which I think really grabs the meat and the heart of the Scripture isn’t really a translation but more of a translated paraphrase, the Message.
2. The second thing you need is a notebook of some kind to keep notes in. Questions you might have as you read or even insights you’ve had. You can also make not of verses or passages which really speak to you and your situation.
3. The third thing you need is to read.
C. Now we come to the Bible Reading Plans. I found all of these on the Zondervan.com website and I fell in love with them because they are not your usual Bible Study cover to cover reading plans. And your “parting gift” for today will be these reading plans.
Describe briefly. 30 Days With Jesus. 30 Days For New Christians, 2 Week Guided Tour.
All of these can be done individually or you might want to covenant with a couple of friends to begin reading and studying together. Then get together once a week or every other week and discuss what you’ve read. Use your notebook to share those insights. Some of the groups I’ve encouraged also liked to play “Stump The Preacher” and would ask me to explain certain passage or questions. That’s not always fun, but I’ll be glad to share both my wisdom and ignorance with you. And help you answer or discover answers to your questions. That’s all part of study.
The point is, Joshua People Study. Jesus spent time in the Temple and the synagogues studying. Remember when he was twelve and got separated from his family, they found him in the Temple, studying. We study to be like Jesus. We study to move ourselves beyond being nominal Christians to becoming Disciples. The simple Joshua Principle is: Joshua People Study.
Joshua People Always Look To The Future With Hope. We Obey and Serve. And we Study. Jesus calls us to be Disciples, God calls us to “meditate on the Word day and night.” Joshua People a seeking to be faithful Disciples.
So, I challenge you, to collect your parting gift, choose a Plan and begin Your Study.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.