Joshua Lesson 11

God’s Action Plan for Facing Opposition and Difficult Situations in Life

Joshua 9:1-27
  1. The Submarine and the Polar Bears.  Years ago, I had a navy friend who was serving on a submarine.  He gave me a picture of the submarine, which had surfaced in the Arctic.  In the photo you could see the tower, on top of the sub, surrounded by ice as far as the eye could see. Three polar bears were strolling around the submarine.  The bears appeared certain that they had found the biggest fish ever, and were convinced they could eat the thing!  The only concern they appeared to have was finding the optimum place to take the first bite.  Let’s use that picture as an introduction to the final ten lessons from Joshua.
    1. Discussion 1: Describe some challenges in daily living that some consider impossible to overcome. 
    2. Discussion 2: Discuss typical responses when people face difficult, or perceived as impossible, circumstances in life.
  2. Joshua is a book of bravery, strategy, and lots of military action.  If it were a movie or a TV series, there would be many exciting action scenes.  Let’s go beyond all that and focus on a key point.  The book of Joshua is far more than strategy, conflict, conquest, and victory.  In an eternal sense it is a description, and forecast, of the spiritual warfare we all will face as we live our life for Christ.
  3. The apostle Paul considered Christians as soldiers.  Soldiers are trained to fight and expect to win!  There is strategy involved.  We are taught that we are in the Army of the Lord.  Scripture also teaches that there is an ongoing battle between good and evil.  Look at Eph. 6:10-17; 2 Cor. 10:3-4; I Tim 1:18 and 2 Tim 2:3-4.
    1. Question 1: God expects Christians today to be soldiers, rather than observers, in the spiritual warfare we face.  Which are we?  Why do you take the position you do?
    2. Question 2: Should it concern us when we don’t face opposition in our day-to-day lives?
  4. When Facing Difficult Situations:
    1. Look at Joshua 9:1-2, where the Kings west of the Jordan decided to resist the Israelites and formed an alliance to do so.  The Israelites were tricked into a compromise with the Gibeonites, rather than exterminating all the inhabitants of the Promised Land, as God had instructed.  God expects us to resist evil - not compromise with it.
    2. We should expect to face opposition and conflict in our Christian walk through life.  (1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim 2:3, 4; James 5:10)
    3. Realize that nothing is impossible with God!  He is not limited by time, space or degree of difficulty.   (Luke 1:37)
    4. Don’t be discouraged when opposition pops up to the values you hold.  (Josh. 1:9)
    5. Understand why people resist God.
      1. They resist because God is Holy and He hates iniquity.  Look at Proverbs 6:16-19 for six things God hates.
      2. They resist because absolute rules and standards of conduct may be involved.
      3. They like viewing Him as a jovial benefactor or kindly grandfather-type who is willing to meet their needs and help them avoid tough times.  Just don’t require them to face some type of discipline, or difficulty that can shape Godly traits in their lives, such as patience and perseverance.
      4. Jesus taught that we would be hated and persecuted in John 15:20-25.  Note what He foretold in John 16:1-4.
      5. They are looking for a handout.  In John 6: 10-14, 26, 27, He fed the 5,000 and the throngs of people that were following him.  Yet the next day, Jesus tells the group to stop seeking earthly food that perishes, but eternal food that lasts unto eternal life.
      6. Jesus teaches in this and other passages that there is a cost of following him.  (Matt. 10:38, 39; Luke 14:26, 27)  Paying that cost is, no doubt, why so many avoid or even resist Him.
    6. So, what should Christians remember, as we face challenges and difficulties?
      1. God tells us to expect difficulties to come your way.  (John 16:2-3)
      2. Remain joyful when they do!  (James 1:2)
      3. Cast your cares on Him.  (I Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22)
      4. God will deepen our faith through them.  (Rom 5:3; I Peter 1:6-7)
      5. Suffering makes us worthy for kingdom purposes.  (2 Thes. 1:5)
      6. God uses them to perfect and strengthen our character.  (1 Peter 5:10)
  5. Finally, note the timing of the new opposition, which Joshua and the Israelites faced.
    1. It occurred immediately after they renewed their covenant with God, following the Ai defeat, and after Joshua built an altar (Joshua 8:30).  Look at Exodus 31:16, which talks about the observance of the Sabbath day as a perpetual covenant.
    2. The same will be true for us.  Opposition will likely come immediately after renewal, revival, or some spiritual blessing or event we have celebrated.
    3. Satan seems most determined to get the upper hand (often violently) after spiritual progress.  In your opinion, why is that so?
    4. Question 3: Have you experienced opposition from people, and in places, where you’d least expect? Why do you think that happens?  What types of opposition could Christians face?

 

 

 

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