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Getting Back Into The Fight & Finishing Strong

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Title:  GETTING BACK INTO THE FIGHT…FINISHING STRONG

Text:  Joshua 14:6-15

Introduction:

            Quotes that inspire:  Sir Edmund Hilary – “I did it for the glory of God.”  Caleb – “I want that mountain.”

            In 1953, Sir Edmund Hilary was the first white man to ever scale Mt. Everest.  He is known in history to have said, “Because its there!” when asked why he did it.  But that’s not what he actually said.  The press changed it because his actual words were not acceptable in print.  Dr. Elmer Towns, professor at Liberty Seminary was a long-time friend of Sir Hilary, and he records what was actually said.  It was “I did it for the glory of God.”  Sir Hilary had a vision of what God wanted him to do in his life, so when he accomplished it, he gave the credit where it was due.  That inspires me.

            But could you hold onto a 45-year-old promise and have the faith at age 85 to claim it?  Caleb wanted to claim a mountain in Hebron that had been promised to him many years before he began all the battles to take the land for his fellow believers.  With the conquest done, he remembered what was promised him, but it was now occupied by giants.  He told General Joshua, “I want that mountain!”  There was one good fight left in the heart of this aging warrior, but he went at it like a fledging recruit.  That really inspires me! 

Read Text.

            Standing before General Joshua is his old friend and fellow spy & warrier, 85 year-old Caleb.  He is conversing with the General about that never-to-be-forgotten day 45 years previous.  It was the day when the two of them stood alone against the other 10 spies and the cowardly mob that believed the report of the other fearful spies after having spied out the Promised Land.  When they returned from their mission, 10 men said they could not conquer the land.  Caleb, however, dared to disagree.  As the fears of the people mounted, Joshua stepped up to Caleb’s side and agreed with him that they should trust God for the victory.  But the landslide of fear in the mob was against them.  That day they were turned away from entering the Promised Land and wandered another 40 years in the wilderness.  Forty years of wandering and five years of fighting are now behind them.  The entire original mob and the other 10 spies have not survived…only Joshua and Caleb remain from the original group.  But Caleb remembered Moses’ promise on the day they stood together before the fearful mob.  For Caleb’s leadership against the unbelieving spies and the unbelieving crowd, Moses singled him out for a blessing and promised him a special reward…it was to possess a mountain in Hebron.

1.      Do you remember the sting of being told you were too young or too old to do something?       Has it ever kept you from doing something you knew you should do?
Insight: In times like that we all need a model of a faith that cannot be frustrated by someone else’s doubts.  It takes a constant focus on the power, promises and faithfulness of God.  The fruit of that kind of faith is that you will be led to personal possession of what God put in your heart to do in the first place.  There is no age too old that God cannot use you.  Power doubters have disintegrated many a dream.  Don’t ever let anybody point out your limitations and try to hold you back. Purpose tonight to shed fearful words and begin turning dreams and visions into reality.

2.      Josh. 14:6  This verse states Caleb’s heredity.  But was Caleb’s faith via heredity?  (No; it was by the fruit of conviction.)

3.      Caleb had great faith 45 years previous when he reported his view of the Promised Land.  But Caleb had to endure the 40 years of punishment due to the lack of faith in the rest of the children of Israel.  I’m sure Caleb was disappointed.  How do you deal with disappointment?
Insight: Disappointment is very difficult to deal with.  It may very well shatter your dreams and lead you to giving up.  Though people may let us down, discourage and disappoint us, it is faith in a promise-keeping God that will keep us moving towards our dream. 
Insight: Notice that Caleb didn’t insist on getting his way when 10 other men came back with a different report.  Faith breeds patience…and Caleb was patient enough to outlast the doubters.

4.      Josh. 14:7-8  Is majority opinion always right?     How is it that 12 men who walked the same land together could come back with two different visions of possibilities and impossibilities?
Insight: Caleb was a man of spiritual vision that gave him spiritual vitality, and it led him to spiritual victory.  Ten men behind him lay in the dusty grave because they neglected to nurture their faith in a powerful God when the chips are down. Caleb had the heart of men half his age.  He was ready to take on another battle when most men his age are ready to hit the casket.

5.      Josh. 14:9-11  How does your view of the important and the essential change with maturity?
Insight: When we were young, everything was essential, everything was important, everything was such a big deal.  Youth think they have all the answers, so they are more critical of others and have less patience.  But the older you get, things that used to upset you don’t anymore.  Maturity is to focus on what really matters.  Maturity means you’ve put more miles on the shoes of walking in grace.  Age was just a number in Caleb’s mind; he still had the vigor and readiness to do battle that revealed he still had a young heart to fight the last battle that counted the most.  When you walk closely with the Lord through life’s battles, the more spirit-filled the believer becomes.  Grace is evident in his character and bravery strengthens with pages of history of the Lord’s faithfulness all through the years.

6.      Josh. 14:12  Capsulize Caleb’s perspective of what he was asking Joshua in this verse?
Insight: He did not minimize the problem (not the giants nor the fortified cities)…but he magnified God.  To him, God was greater than the biggest problem.  Caleb’s battle-worn years taught him not many mountains are worth fussing over…few mountains are worth fighting for…until you find one great mountain that is worth dying on.  Caleb wanted THIS mountain to lay his bones to rest on, and give the land as an inheritance to his children.  Abraham buried Sarah on this mountain.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried on this mountain.  Caleb wanted to be buried on this mountain.
Insight: Essentials are worth dying for…essentials for life…essentials for faith.  But wise is the man who is able to separate what is essential and what is not when it comes to personal relationships.  Sad is the man who crucifies others over something that really doesn’t matter.

7.      Josh. 14:13-14  What was the basis upon which Joshua granted Caleb’s request?  (“Because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully…whole heartedly.”) 
Insight: Forty-five years is a long time to wait for the fulfillment of a promise.  It’s a long time for faith to live on words of a promise from someone who died long ago.  But wait he could…because he had a strong faith in the promises of God spoken through Moses.  That promise sustained him in all those difficult years.  I don’t know about you, but I gather a lot of strength into my own heart when I hear that an octogenarian says he felt as strong and vigorous at 85 as he did when he was 40!  It’s faith in a mighty God that keeps a heart young…keeps a heart strong…keeps a heart vigorous!  With flashing eyes, strength in his voice, and a white-knuckle grip on his sword, Caleb vowed, “The Lord will help me drive them out just as He said He would.”  And drive them out he did…it’s recorded in Joshua 15.

Conclusion:

Josh. 14:15  General Joshua granted Caleb him the request.  When writing this book, Joshua glanced back in time to that day when his friend Caleb took Hebron just as he said he would.  He concludes his story with his battle mate by recalling that the land was previously named “Hebron…the land of Kireath Arba.”  If you dig further into the Bible, you will find that Arba was a giant that lived with the Anakites…a nation of giants.  This fact makes Caleb’s heroic faith stand out even more vividly.  What a difference it makes when believers wholly follow the Lord and exercise faith in Him.  Caleb’s dedication and faith saved his life through the battles…gained him an inheritance for his family…overcame the enemy once and for all…and enabled him to bless his family for years to come.  Joshua concludes the story with the words, “Then the land rested from war.” 

What do those words do for you?  Do they increase your faith?  Do they make your heart stronger?  They are the testimony of what the Lord can accomplish with respect to your land yet to be possessed…your obstacle yet to be overcome…your promise that is yet to be fulfilled!!

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