September 29, 2020, 5:59 PM



S39 – WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 28, 2020



When in the army, one of the things we had to do in basic training was run an obstacle course. We had to go up, around and through things that were in our way!

In our Christian lives we will face many obstacles. There will be health problems, people problems, work problems, school problems and sin problems. Just as a regular obstacle course is beneficial for our bodies, the obstacles Christians face can also be valuable. As we face life's obstacles we will develop stronger spiritual muscles, increase our spiritual endurance, and our spiritual agility. We must learn to remove the obstacles in our lives.  We find out how to do this in our text.

The children of Israel were going over to the Promised Land, the Land of Canaan. They had an obstacle in front of them. Their obstacle was the Jordan River. This river was overflowing its banks during the spring thaw and spring rains. This was not a river that could be waded through. It was a formidable obstacle.


The warning here is actually two-fold:

1. Be Ready When God Is - Vs. 3

The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of God's covenant with Israel. It was a symbol of the Lord's presence. In essence when the ark moved, God moved. If the Ark moved, it meant that God was moving and Israel needed to follow.

The situation is still the same today. If God is moving, or leading in our lives, we need to follow. In dealing with an obstacle, our eyes must be on the Lord. As God opens doors, we must be ready, willing and able to move through them.

2. Let God Go First - Vs 4

This was a large multitude. Jehovah was going to lead. By giving a distance between the ark and those following, the ark could be clearly seen by the people.

Very often Christians don't give the Lord room to lead. They rush ahead without keeping their eyes on Him. Then they wonder why they fail!

When I was a home missionary I needed an office. In my own strength I tried very hard to find one. Finally, I gave up and asked the Lord to provide one. Once I got my eyes on Him, He answered.

The Lord provided an office within walking distance of my home and also provided the people who promised to pay the rent. This all happened in one day! And as a bonus the landlady was the local baker's wife. If I was around at the end of the day I left with free baked goods.


If you were leading a military expedition in Joshua's day, what would you tell your troops? You might say, "Make sure your sword is sharpened and your shield and helmet in good order. Instead Joshua tells the people, "Get yourselves ready spiritually!"

The word "sanctify" means to separate or to be set apart. Usually this separation is from that which is unholy. When we set ourselves apart from that which is unholy, we are setting ourselves apart for God. Although God does sanctify us at salvation, during our Christian lives and at death, He also expects us to set ourselves apart for him. If we expect Him to remove obstacles, we must set ourselves apart for Him! 2 Timothy 2:19-22, 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1


Notice that it was after Joshua told the people to sanctify themselves that god encouraged Joshua.

Have you ever noticed how some people receive more encouragement from the Lord than others? I personally think that it has to do with the amount that we are sold out to God. The more we obey, the more we are encouraged. The more we pray, the more answered prayer encourages us. The more we lift up Jesus Christ to our friends, the more people come to Christ.


In verse 8 the Lord gives Joshua specific instructions. The priests had to take the first step into the water. It was a step of faith. When facing obstacles the Lord will give you specific instructions to follow. It is up to you to take the first step of faith. If you lack wisdom God will give you wisdom (James 1:5). If you face temptation, God will provide the way to escape. You only have to take it (1 Corinthians 10:13).


Vs. 9 - Notice that the promise was coming from God, not Joshua. This was not blind faith. Joshua and God's people were to rest on God's promises.

Vs. 10 - This removal of the Jordan River obstacle was to be a sign or a promise that god would remove even greater obstacles. God gives us little victories so we will trust Him for bigger ones.

Vs. 11 - The Lord was going ahead.

Vs. 13 - Dry ground was promised. No Israelite got stuck in the mud!

God hasn't promised us a dry Jordan, but he has given us many promises on which to depend.

These promises include Matthew 7:7-8, Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 16:8, Isaiah 55:11 and many more.

AN ACT OF FAITH - Vss. 14-17

It was time to go forward by faith.

Wet feet lead to dry ground.

When God tells us to move forward it is time to move forward. Israel did. The obstacle was removed. Isaiah 43:2



"I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

Since becoming a Christian, I have seen many great ministries performed by believers. Some of these people are well known, while others are not.

I have seen faithful ministers to prisoners, including my brother Art.  I have seen missionaries who cover the globe witnessing for Christ.

I have heard great preachers in person and on radio, tape, or television.

I have heard great evangelists and talented Bible teachers.

I've known faithful pastors who have shepherded flocks of all sizes.

I have met great Sunday School teachers, elders, deacons, trustees, and other church leaders.

I have met many people whose specialty has been to do good works in the name of Christ.

There are many faithful servants of Christ who perform many important ministries. Some of these ministries you and I are not gifted enough to perform.  There is, however, one ministry which I feel is the greatest ministry of all. Any Christian can perform this ministry. It is the ministry of prayer.

Through prayer I can support missionaries and their ministries around the world.

Through prayer I can pray for the salvation of the lost.

Through prayer I can intercede for believers in all places and walks of life.

Through prayer I can see change in my family, my church, my community, and on my job.

Through prayer I can see my needs met.

Our text is one of the great verses on prayer.

This text was a favorite of a great man of faith and prayer by the name of George Mueller.

Through prayer George Mueller built numerous buildings debt free.

Through prayer George Mueller fed, clothed, and housed thousands of orphans.

Through prayer George Mueller conducted literature and Sunday School ministries around the world.

Mueller did not ask man for money. He asked God!


I wish to challenge you to the greatest ministry of all!

GOD'S IDENTITY - "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt..."

In order to be convinced that prayer is practical, powerful, or even necessary, we must realize who is making the promise found in this verse.

1. He is the Lord - The word Lord, when capitalized in the KJV, is a translation of the word Jehovah. Jehovah is the eternal, self-existent one. Exodus 3:14. Because He exists, we are not wasting our breath when we speak. Because He is eternal, He will always exist and has already existed. This means that God is able to start working on answers even before we ask. Isaiah 65:24

2. He is our God - He was talking to Israel. But today those who know Christ as Savior know that the Lord is their God (John 1:12).

3. He is our deliverer - He brought Israel out of the bondage of Israel. He brought us Christians out of the bondage of sin.  He is available to keep on delivering.

GOD'S INVITATION - " thy mouth wide..."

I have received many invitations to many functions, but this invitation is greatest of all.

The God who made me His child invites me to open my mouth wide and ask. Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7-11, Hebrews 4:14-16, James 1:5

I think of hungry baby birds when I think of mouths open wide. They keep their mouths wide open, in anxious anticipation of being fed. When we have our mouths open in prayer we are to be praying by faith in anxious anticipation of God's answer. James 1:6, Mark 11:24

GOD'S INPUT - "...I will fill it."

God promises to answer prayer that is offered according to His will. John 14:13-14, 1 John 5:14-15




It's very easy to start projects.  I have a few which I started a long time ago but have never finished. In order to please God, we should finish the projects that He has called us to do.

We should want to be able to say with Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" In our text our Lord Jesus gives us an example of how to get a job done.


The reason our Lord wanted to feed the multitude was out of compassion for those who had been listening to Him. He was concerned for their wellbeing.  When we take on projects it should be because we have concern for the spiritual and physical needs of others.


The disciples only thought of the impossibility of feeding the multitude.

The Lord looked to see what resources were on hand to get the job done.

When challenged by the Lord to accomplish something for Him, we need to consider what resources He has provided. The resources might include people with time, physical talents and/or Spiritual gifts. There might be some money or goods available. Don't overlook the power of God as a key resource.


Jesus talked to God. He gave thanks and blessed what He had.

If we are going to accomplish anything for God we must be in prayerful dependence upon Him.

See John 14:12-14 and John 15:1-8.


Jesus completed the project by faith.

We must go to work by faith on the projects God has given us to complete.

(A good example is Nehemiah, who in chapters 1-6 of his book completed the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls.)




As we continue our study of the Life of Christ we find the Lord Jesus confronting death.  Last time we saw him having dinner with and confronting a bunch of self-righteous Pharisees.  This week, we see the passing of His good friend Lazarus and His subsequent raising of Lazarus from the dead.  In this passage eternal life is very much a part of the discussion.

THE PROBLEM – Vss. 1-16

The problem presented here is an age old problem that everyone has to deal with it.

Vss. 1-3 – There was evidently a close friendship between the Lord Jesus and Lazarus.  Lazarus was sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha, were also loyal followers of Jesus and Jesus had been a guest in their home, probably on more than on occasion.

Vs. 4 – When Jesus said that the sickness was not “unto death”, He didn’t mean that Lazarus wouldn’t die.  He would die.  But his resurrection four days later would bring glory to God.

We need to remember that many of the problems we face are designed to bring glory to God.  The way God strengthens us during these problems and shows His presence will bring glory to Him.  We must remember that problems are designed to correct, strengthen us, and if we let them, bring glory to God. James 1:2-4

Vss. 5-6 – I read these two verses together because I want you to notice something.  Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and yet He still delayed His coming to their aid.

I want you realize that when God delays helping you or giving you the relief you think that you need, that He still loves you.  His delays have reason.

Jesus was Perea on the other side of the Jordon River from Bethany which was about two miles from Jerusalem. It is probable that Lazarus died the day the message was sent, even before Jesus got the message that Lazarus was sick. It was customary to bury the body on the day of death. 

Figuring a day’s journey for the messenger to arrive and report to Jesus, two days wait, a day’s journey for Jesus to get to Bethany, Lazarus was in the grave four days as stated in Verse 17.

So why did Jesus delay his arrival? Here is a good possible reason shared by John MacArthur: “The Jews believed that the soul hovered around the body for three days after death, hoping to reenter it. But on the fourth day, after noticing that the body was beginning to decompose, the soul departed. Only then would a death be considered completely irreversible, Lazarus had been dead for four days, and his body had already started to decompose. The Jews therefore would have recognized that only a divine miracle could restore him to life.” John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John 1-11, (Chicago, Moody Press, 2006), pp. 461-462

In verses 14-15 we see another reason for Jesus’ delay.  It would have strengthened the faith of the disciples.  The time of Jesus’ death was drawing near, and their faith would need to be strong.

The problem in our story is death.

Death has historically been a problem.

No matter how long you or your loved ones live, unless Jesus comes again beforehand, you and your loved ones all will die.

Why is there death?  It all began back in the Garden of Eden.  The Garden of Eden was a perfect environment.  God had told Adam to eat of any fruit he wanted but one. Genesis 2:16-17

The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God there was Spiritual death and later there would be physical death.  There was a separation between God and Man caused by sin that became part of man’s nature. Romans 5:12, Ezekiel 18:4

The problem of physical death is bad enough. But eternal separation from God and the eternal punishment for our sins that come with spiritual death is an even greater problem.   

Romans 6:23a - For the wages of sin is death;

 So, death is a problem for everyone who ever lived.   

We all deserve death physical and spiritual.


Vss. 17-20 – Jesus arrived.  The traditional mourning period was taking place, complete with professional mourners and friends coming to call. People from Jerusalem came as well because Bethany was so close.  Evidently, Lazarus was a prominent man from a prominent family and this would have made his death a major event.

Martha, more forceful in personality of the two sisters, did not wait for Jesus to come to her. She went to Him.

Vs. 21 – This is not necessarily a word of rebuke. It was a statement of fact and faith.  Martha knew that if Jesus had been there He would have healed Lazarus.  There was no question in her mind.

Vs. 22 – Martha’s statement here seemed to reinforce what she had just said about Jesus’ healing ability.  She believed that He still had the ability to heal and work the miracles that He had done in the past.  However, she was not thinking of Jesus was capable of raising her brother from the dead.  Her faith, like ours, had its limits.  The limits we put on our faith are often not limits God wants us to put on our faith.

Vs. 23 – Jesus proclaimed that her brother would rise again. Jesus meant immediately.

Vs. 24 – Martha did believe in the resurrection in the last day and that Lazarus would be part of it.

She wasn’t expecting anything any sooner.

Vs. 25a - Jesus makes a proclamation here that does pertain to the resurrection of Lazarus from the grave, and the resurrection of all believers.

Jesus is the resurrection!  If Jesus is the resurrection, then He could raise her Brother from the dead right then and there. If Jesus is the resurrection, then He can raise you from the dead as well.

Why could Jesus say that He is the resurrection and the life?

We already mentioned the problem of sin.

It is Jesus Christ the, perfect, sinless, Son of God, who laid down his life for us. Romans 5:6-9,

2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus died to give you eternal life.  Romans 6:23

Jesus is the resurrection because He is the first person to rise from the dead to die no more. Lazarus died again. Colossians 1:18, Revelation 1:5, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23  

Your hope for resurrection and eternal life is found in Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and the life.   

Not only do you have eternal life in Christ, Christian bear in mind that you have abundant life in Christ. John 10:10

PROMISE – Vss. 25b-27   

John 11:25 - …he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Jesus is talking about the body here.  It a person believes in Christ, though His physical body is dead, his physical body shall live.

The believer in Christ who has passed away, where is he or she until the resurrection?  That person’s spirit is with the Lord.   

The Apostle Paul made that very clear. Philippians 1:21, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

So that beloved child, sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend who was a true believer in Christ is in Heaven awaiting the rejoining of their spirit with their body on Resurrection Day!  Though he is dead, yet shall he live!   

1 Corinthians 15:52 - In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

John 11:26 - And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

The one who lives is the one who believes on Christ.

The one who believes on Christ will never die spiritually.

We will all die physically unless Jesus comes in our lifetime. But spiritually we will live.  

  Jesus asked Martha if she believed this.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

It means to trust in Him alone for forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

It means that all your confidence is in Christ alone.

You are not relying on your own goodness, your own effort, or your own ability to obey God.

You acknowledge your own sin and inability to save yourself. You turn from your own self effort and your sin to trust Jesus Christ alone as the one who died for you and the one who gives you life.

John 3:36 - He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Vs. 27 – Martha expressed her faith in Christ! She is alive in Heaven. She will be part of the resurrection to eternal life. Have you?

PROOF – Vss. 38-45   

Jesus proved that He was the resurrection by raising Lazarus from the dead.

Vs. 38 - After an interview with Mary, they went to the tomb.

Vs. 39 – Jesus commanded that the stone be rolled away.

Martha objected.  He had been in the grave four days and had begun to decompose. He would stink!

Martha reminds me that even though we have faith in Jesus, we don’t always have faith enough!

Vss. 41-42 – Jesus reminded her of His promise and then prayed.

Vss. 42-44 – Jesus gave a mighty shout and Lazarus came forth out of the grave.

Jesus proved His ability beyond the shadow of a doubt.

If your faith is in Jesus Christ, you need to be listening for another shout.  Your loved ones who know Jesus Christ will also hear that shout! 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18





Are you a true believer?  If not, come to Christ this morning!



Philippians 2:19-22 - MODEL SERVANT

One of Paul's key helpers in ministry was Timothy.

As Paul explains that Timothy is coming to visit the Philippians (Vs, 19), he also shows us three qualities of a model servant of the Lord Jesus:

TIMOTHY'S CONCERN - "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state."

TIMOTHY'S COMMITMENT - "For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."

TIMOTHY'S CONDUCT - "But ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel."




  • Why do most people pass judgment on other people the moment they meet them?
  • What factors should never be a part of my evaluation of another person?
  • How is partiality “Arrogance on Display”?
  • In James 2:1-13 James takes dead aim on partiality, making the following observations:
  1. Partiality is not consistent with faith in Christ.  Vs. 1
  • The word translated “partiality” means literally ‘to receive a face’. 
  • 1 Samuel 16: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • God is not partial; therefore, His children should not be partial.  Deuteronomy 10:17, Matthew 5:46-48
  1. Partiality among Christians does exist.  Vss. 2-3
  • Most of us are not ushers, but we can communicate partiality in our services. How?
  • How do we communicate impartiality?
  1. Partial people are self-appointed judges.  Vs. 4
  • “To favor or disfavor anyone on the basis of birth, breeding, wealth, status, or style is to ‘judge with evil thoughts,’ says James. It is wrong-headed thinking – believing that the wealthy are more worthy of honor merely because they’re rich, or thinking that the poor are less worthy merely because they’re poor.” David Roper, Growing Wise Slowly (Grand Rapids, MI, Discovery House Publishers, 2000), p. 81   
  • We must be careful not to pass judgments on a person’s worth, works, or motives.           John 7:24, Romans 14:4, 10-12, 1 Corinthians 4:5
  1. Many poor people are rich in faith.  Vs. 5
  • Why do poor people have more of a tendency to be rich in faith?
  • Have you met a poor person rich in faith?
  • Grace for salvation is never based on one’s merit. Ephesians 1:3-7, Ephesians 2:8-9
  • God is rich in grace towards many poor people. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
  • Why is it harder for a rich person to have faith? Mark 10:23-27
  1. Partiality in church dishonors the poor.  Vs. 6
  • Why is it unwise to dishonor poor people? Luke 4:18-19
  • It is especially sad when there is favoritism in a family.  We’ve all seen it. Don’t let it happen in this family of believers.
  1. Many rich people are oppressive.  Vss. 6-7
  • Not all rich people are oppressive.
  • What makes some rich people arrogant?
  1. Obedience to the “royal law” of Scripture is good.  Vs. 8
  • The complete royal law is summed up in Matthew 22:34-40.
  • How does one go about loving one’s neighbor like himself?
  • Why should churches be among the most loving places on earth? John 13:34-35
  1. It takes only one sin to break the whole law.  Vss. 9-11
  • I enjoy a good buffet.  God’s law is not a buffet.  Give some examples.
  • If I break one law, I am a law breaker.
  • How does partiality hurt the individual Christian and the local church?
  • Why should breaking any of God’s laws break our hearts? 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
  1. We are to act as those who will be judged by the “law of liberty”.  Vs. 12
  • Jesus has given us liberty. John 8:31-36, Romans 6, Romans 8:1-4
  • As Christians we will give account to our Lord and Master. 1 Corinthians 3:11-16,                   2 Corinthians 5:10
  1.   If we want mercy, we must show mercy.  Vs. 13
  • Our judgment is coming. Let us show mercy to each other now!
  • God has promised to bless the merciful. Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:36
  • Consider the parable of the unmerciful servant. Matthew 18:21-35
  1.   “Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  Vs. 13
  • It is God’s mercy that triumphs over our judgment. Romans 5:6-9, John 3:16-18
  • It is God’s mercy that keeps us going in this life. Lamentations 3:22-23
  • How might our showing mercy to others change their judgment of us? Romans 12:14-21                                                                                                                         



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