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Jack Graham - Semper Fi

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    Jack Graham - Semper Fi
TOPICS: Forward

There is no person that God cannot save! There is no promise that God will not keep! There is nothing that our God cannot do! We're going to meet a man today in the story of Joshua whose name is Calab. Perhaps not a well-known biblical hero but he's certainly a great man of God and someone that is an example to all of us whatever stage or age in life we may be in. Let me remind you the story of Joshua is one of victorious Christian living. It's about the blessings of God that are inherited by the children of God. We're to go and take these blessing as God has provided for them. We're to seize them every day. I'm calling this message "Semper Fi". It's Marine motto; it means faithful always or always faithful.

And this is the story of Joshua and it's the story of our man Caleb. There are burdens to bear and there are battles to fight in the land of promise but He has given us victory. He's always causing us to triumph in Jesus Christ. And therefore, as we spring forward into the future, into this next season, this is a time of hope for all of us. Belief and trust no matter what season of life you're in, the rest of your life can be and should be the best of your life. And that's more than a pious platitude or a Christian cliché that doesn't work. It is a biblical principle and it is a fact of life. The people who live the longest and live the best are people who live with courageous, confident optimism and faith. And so we are always optimistic. Paul put it this way as we are leaning into the future. This is the New Living translation. He said: "I focus on this one thing".

I've noticed in life the most successful people are the most simple in many ways, in that they're focus is sure; not distracted or divided, but always focusing on the main thing. Paul said, "I focus on this one thing, forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly price to which God through Christ Jesus is calling me". God is calling us onward and upward, forward by faith. This is my attitude and my approach to life. Always forward. One great missionary, David Livingstone, said, "I'll go anywhere with God as long as it's forward". That's title of our message series in Joshua: FORWARD. So Semper Fi, forward, faithful always. It's the motto of the Marines and it's the motto of the man in front of us today.

We find this part of the story, verse 6, beginning at verse 6, Joshua 14. And we're going to read all the way through verse 14. Chapter 14, verses 6-14, "Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, 'You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-Barnea concerning you and me.'"

Now remember, Joshua and Caleb had been fast friends for many years. They started out as slaves in Egypt, and led out of captivity by Moses, they went with the children of God and spent 40 years in the desert together. They've now crossed the Jordan and defeated Jericho together. They fought many other battles. And now it's time to divide the land and the inheritance of all the leaders of Israel. So he was reminding Joshua what Moses said to him earlier. He said in verse 7, "'I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. And my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, yet I'", note this in your Bible. Underscore it because it's the theme of everything we're going to be saying today, "'wholly followed the Lord my God.'"

You might just put in the margins of your Bibles there: wholeheartedly. "'I wholly followed the Lord my God.' And Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever'", always looking forward, always leaning forward, forever, for our children, for our family, for our lives, for our legacy, "'because you have wholly followed'", there it is again, "'the Lord my God. And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years'". So add it up. How old is he? How old is he? Eighty-five. So now he's 85 years old.

"'Since the time the Lord spoke this word to Moses, and while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country (or this mountainous range) of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there. With great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.' Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day".

Wow, what a story! What a great story! I want us to learn the lessons of the Semper Fi, always faithful. See, first, the vision of this man Caleb. Because his vision should be our vision. Do you have a vision and a mission for your life? Now it seems for some, the older they get the easier it is to want to settle, to stay the same. And one of the characteristics of some older people is they don't like change. Well, they may like change, just as long as change doesn't affect them. We want it safe and comfortable and predictable sometimes. But this is never God's plan for His children. The way of the Lord is always forward, always onward and upward. Knowing Him more and more, serving Him better and better. Letting go of the past, whether it is the victories or the disappointments, and leaning into a future that is filled with hope and joy.

This is the law of Christian living. Never living backwards, but always living forward. Doing the will of God today and every day until Jesus comes. And the goal of the Christian should be the life of Caleb, which is to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus. Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. He died and He rose again, not so that we can sit on a pew and watch the world go by, but rather that we could serve Him all the days of our lives, and that we are pressing onward and leaning forward into our lives. Like the old Gospel song says, "I'm pressing on the upward way. New heights I'm gaining every day". That's the life of the Christian. Six times, both in Joshua and the book of Numbers it says of Caleb that he was wholehearted, all in! We ought to be able to say, "Lord, You have my life, every part of it, all the heart of it, You have it all"!

That's the Christian life, to surrender ourselves and give ourselves completely to the Lord Jesus Christ. You have one life to live and the good news is that it's always forward, and ultimately, it's never over because of the resurrection, because of the promises of God. We have a living hope. And it's time to get your life out of neutral if it is, and start driving forward in the power of God. That you would be a faithful follower of Jesus for the sake of your life and the sake of your legacy. This is, in the case of Caleb about his family and about the future of his family. What is true for Caleb is true for you. Your faith today sets in motion the faith of your family in the days ahead. Caleb did this and so can you.

Now I'm calling us today, every one of us, those of you watching online, watching on PowerPoint Television or listening. I'm calling every one of us today to begin giving one thousand percent to the cause of Christ, to the work of His church and His kingdom. God deserves everything that we have. He said, "You belong to Me". And so, Lord, we give our life to You. We have way, way too many half-hearted Christians; too many Christians who settle, rather than give their lives away. May God give you a holy ambition. What is the holy ambition of your life? What is the dream? God gave Caleb a dream that came from God Himself. He didn't dream it up. The dream came from God. "Delight yourself in the Lord," the psalmist said, "and He will give you the desires of your heart".

So what desires has God placed in your heart as you have sought Him? This came from God's Word. And the word of God came to him, built his faith, and said, "I'm going to give you the mountain. I'm going to give you the most luscious part of the land of promise called Hebron, and it's a land flowing with milk and honey and fruitfulness", and God gave this man a promise, just as He's given us promise, that promise is to live a life of fulness and blessing. Do you have that desire in your heart? Are we fully following the Lord? Or would you have to say, "Not always. Sometimes I'm just not all in".

As we spring forward today, I'm asking you to get this sermon out of your ears and into your heart; out of this church, off these seats and into the streets where we can serve the Lord Jesus. I'm challenging you, as I've challenged myself, like Caleb, to wholly follow the Lord wholeheartedly. This desire, you see, this came from the Lord which brings me to the second point which is: the vitality of this man, the vitality. He said, "The Lord has kept me alive all these years". Why are you alive today? Because God kept you alive. And as long as there is breath in our body, as long as God keeps us alive, we will have vitality and strength to serve the Lord. He's 85 years old. And he's claiming mountains; he's still fighting battles. But I'm praying we somehow get this into our hearts because what happened to this man is, it was supernatural. I mean, he was in great shape.

When I think about Caleb, I mean just picture old Caleb in your mind perhaps. And I see him as grizzly old veteran, white hair, white beard, gnarly muscles. But what I really see is a great heart, a big heart for God. That's what kept him alive. many times have you heard me say, "If you're not dead, you are". Oh, you haven't been listening. So I repeat myself. "If you are not dead, you are not done". And God has a plan and a purpose for your life. You were made on purpose for a purpose. And the vitality of our life. "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, on eagle's wings and run and not be weary, walk and not faint". Paul said, "Though the outward man is decaying, the inner person is being renewed every single day".

So what happened to Caleb can happen to you no matter what age you may be; you can be renewed spiritually and supernaturally. And Caleb persevered, watch this, through the years through discouragement and defeat. He spent 40 years of his life wandering in the wilderness with a bunch of losers who refused to obey God and take the land when God had promised them and given it to them. They shirked back, they were fearful. But Caleb was faithful and Caleb was fearless. And he never let go of his dream. No matter what others were doing, no matter the distractions and the diversions of others, through all the defeats and disappointments.

Can you imagine how he waited and waited and waited and waited for the promise of God? But at some point in his life, probably back there at Kadesh-Barnea he said, "Lord, I'm going all the way with You. I'm going to be faithful to You. I'm going to be true to You. And I will fulfill my purpose in life that you have given me". Semper Fi. Always faithful. Too many Christians are not always faithful; they're fretful and fearful. You know the prayer of your pastor today for all of us? And that is I want you to live in the fullness of God's promises for your life. My heart's desire as your pastor is that you would dream again, that you would do again what God has called and commissioned you to do! Don't settle, but say, "God, give me the mountain that is right in front of me wholeheartedly".

Captured that one big idea, the great dream or dreams that God puts in your life. People, don't let it... Some people are buried at 80 but they died at 40. And so don't let yourself, don't let your dreams die. You know, weak men (and women) are often divided and distracted because they're uncommitted to anything. Just here and there and never really settled and focused on what God has called. Caleb got up every day and said, "I will follow the Lord fully". And we need people today with this kind of vitality. This is not a time to be tired. If you're tired, take a nap, and then get up and go again! Unfortunately, in churches today we've got a lot of nice people who are willing to go along to get along. They want to take a stand; they want to live for Jesus; they want to be bold and vital in their faith, but they worry way too much about what others think. Caleb didn't care what the other ten spies thought; he was going God's way.

When the time comes to really stand up and fight, these nice Christians are nowhere to be found. Which brings me to my third point, which was this man's valor, his valor. Caleb was courageous. He was strong and valorous. I like that word. And we are always faithful when we are courageously committed. Faithfulness creates fearlessness in our lives. It is commitment that builds confidence. Your vision is valiant and vigorous, and we overcome the obstacles that are in front of us.

What was in the way of Caleb? Mountainous territory and giants that lived in the land. They were called the Anakim. And they were the same giants that he had seen many years earlier, 40 years earlier. They were still there. And standing between Caleb and the promise that God gave him was not only the discouragement of all these grasshoppers that died in the desert. They said, "We're like grasshoppers compared to those giants". They had a grasshopper complex. So you had the grasshoppers and then you had the giants standing in the way. But Caleb never let anything stop him. You know why so many people fail in life and never achieve God's blessings in their life? Because they have a grasshopper complex or they're fearful of the giants in front of them.

But look in chapter 14, verses 8 and 9. Let's go back and look at it. It says: "But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord your God.'" And then he said these giants will be like bread to you. You're going to eat these guys for breakfast, Caleb. Why? Because I've given you this victory. God is saying your enemies will be nothing to you.

The Bible says "No weapon formed against you will prosper". "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". Remember this, our destiny, our future, our opportunities hang on the hinges of opposition! Always, always! So, you need to start seeing things from God's perspective! You know the key to this man's life? I think it's 6, maybe 7 times it says in here, "And the Lord said, the Lord said, the Lord said, the Lord said, the Lord said", God gave him His word, God gave him His promise. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God". And we need to be like this man, Semper Fi, who said, "God promised me a mountain! God gave me a victory already, and I'm going to go and take it". He kept on keeping on.

And so what was his victory? The last point: what was his victory? It was a place called Hebron. Hebron was holy ground for the Hebrews. It was the only piece of property that Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, ever owned in the land of promise. He was visited by angels there at the place called Hebron. I've been there to Hebron. I've seen it today. It's difficult to go there; it's occupied right now. It's not necessarily all that safe to be in Hebron. But it was occupied then as well, in Caleb's day. But he buried his wife there; he bought this property, Abraham did, so that he could bury his wife Sarah in the land of promise. Abraham himself buried there. Isaac, the next patriarch, the son, the promised one, and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah, all buried at Hebron. But it was occupied in Caleb day by Godless people. So Caleb, knowing how sacred that site was, prayed for Hebron. He said, "God gave me this plot of ground".

So, quick aside, when you pray, pray bold prayers. Pray big prayers. He's praying for a tough one. It was a land flowing with milk and honey but there were big giants there. But he was climbing higher. And he had a holy call to choose beyond what the normal person might have chosen. I digress. He was 85. He could have been looking for a lakeside home, a quiet place. You know, sometimes older people like it really quiet. "God, just give me some place quiet. Just give me some place where there are no struggles or problems. I've done enough. I've put up with these crazy Israelis in the desert all these years. We've gone through Jordan; we've gone to Jericho. The walls are down. We fought this battle. I'm retiring"!

Well, you know, retirement is never in the Bible. And he didn't retire. He said, "No, Lord, give me that mountain. Give me the giants. Let me at 'em! Give me Hebron". The word Hebron is of mysterious origin in the Hebrew language, and we don't know exactly what it means. I kind of like that about the word Hebron. But most likely it means face to face with God; fellowship with God. And when you go to heaven whether it's by land or by air, you'll just keep going because it never stops for us. We just keep going. We keep serving the Lord on the other side forever and ever.
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