Well if you do not live in Southern California, or you’re watching on television, we’ve had a lot of rain in Southern California this year, it seems like. I’ve lived here about 23/4 years now. And it doesn’t seem like we’ve ever had this much rain. Whenever this much rain happens, everybody starts talking about Noah, you know, time to build an ark. So this past week, I found five life lessons on the internet about Noah that we can learn from the life of Noah. I thought they were so important that I had to share them with you.
The first lesson from the life of Noah that we can learn is plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. That’s a very good life lesson. The second life lesson is stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something really big. That’s a great life lesson. The third one’s even more important. Remember that the woodpeckers inside are often a bigger threat than the storm outside. That one stings. Number four: no matter how bleak it looks, there’s always a rainbow on the other side. That’s a great life lesson. And number five is stop what you are doing and do what God says. That’s a powerful life lesson. And what I love about number four and five is they are both filled with hope. No matter how bleak it looks, there’s always a rainbow. That’s hope. And stop what you are doing and do what God says, that’s also all about hope.
And we’re talking about hope as part of this series on love life, and it’s all based on 1st Corinthians 13. So we’re going to start the message this morning, reminding ourselves of the words from 1st Corinthians 13. I’ll read these to you: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so I can remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself. Is not puffed up. Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.” There’s a powerful word right there called H-O-P-E. Hope.
Now what Paul is really saying in this passage is a hopeful person is a person who believes the worst is behind them, and a new day is coming. A hopeful person looks at life through a possibility thinker’s lens. If I’ve learned anything in this church from this dear man Dr. Schuller is a hopeful person is a person that looks through life with a possibility thinker’s lens. And a hopeful person is a person who can believe in a God of love. That’s what hope does. Now for many of you today, there’s a wall between you and hope. There’s a wall between you and hope and that wall appears un-scalable. It’s a wall that appears to have no end to the right or to the left. You could walk for miles along this wall and not find a way around it. That’s the wall between you and hope. And this wall is beyond a mountain. Because a mountain, when you think about it, you can climb a mountain. It may take effort and energy and you may have sore and tired muscles, but you can climb a mountain. But a wall is different. A wall is different.
Your wall probably has a label attached to it. Your wall is labeled fear. In big, bold, blasting letters, all you see is fear. I fear, therefore, I will not: you fill in the blanks. Your wall might have a different label. Your wall may say I mistrust. I can’t trust you, therefore: you fill in the blank. I mistrust almost everyone in my life because I’m not going to get hurt again. That’s the wall you’re facing. Your wall may have a different label. Your wall may say inadequacy. I feel inadequate, I’m underemployed therefore I must be inadequate, or I’m unemployed, therefore I must be inadequate. I fail in my relationships; therefore, I must be inadequate. That’s your wall and your wall keeps you from hope. Your wall stands in the way of hope.
Some of you have beaten against your particular wall for years. That’s how powerful that wall is. It’s a wall that reminds me of the wall that used to divide Germany in the Cold War. It was an ominous, imposing, nasty looking thing. That’s the wall that’s in your life between you and hope. And I want to tell you something, no one, no one; no one wants to face their wall. It’s just a fact. Nobody wants to face their wall. But I have good news for you today. You ready for the good news? God loves walls. God loves walls. Now are you asking me the question, why does God love the walls? Why does God love walls? Because God swings a mighty wrecking ball. God swings a mighty wrecking ball. There is never a wall in existence that God will not tear down for you, help you over, help you get around, help you tunnel underneath. God will help you get around, over, under or through your wall. That’s the God that we serve.
Let that soak in for a minute because this morning we’re going to learn how to tear down some walls. Anybody want to tear down your wall? You’ve all got one. I don’t know what it is. Everybody’s wall is different. You want to tear it down? You ready to tear down your wall? There is a book in the Old Testament called Joshua. And what I’ve found is there is a great, great lesson in Joshua 6 on how to tear down walls in your life. So let’s look at Joshua. Because you remember the Sunday school story, the children of Israel have gotten out of Egypt, they’ve wandered through the desert for 40 years, they are now finally crossing into the Promised Land when they realize the walls of Jericho are standing in the way. And this is an ominous imposing wall. Picture the movie in your head. It’s not like they can rush up against this wall and try to climb it, because you can see the enemy, standing on top of the wall with bows and arrows, right? Ready to take them out. You’ve all seen a movie like that somewhere. So they’re not getting up that wall. So they have this wall in front of them. But the interesting thing is let’s read what God has to say about this wall.
Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel. None went out and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua; see I have given Jericho into your hand, its king and the mighty men of valor. The wall is still there, but its funny how God does not even acknowledge the wall. Is that soaking in? See, I have given Jericho into your hand. The wall’s still there, but God does not acknowledge the wall. Here’s the even better part: neither does Joshua. Neither does Joshua. Joshua does not acknowledge that there’s a wall there. He doesn’t say Lord come here. We got to have a chat. You see that? That’s a wall. We’re not getting over it. We’re not getting around it. Joshua doesn’t say that. Joshua just listens. He doesn’t acknowledge the wall because God doesn’t acknowledge the wall. That is a powerful life lesson for you. And the powerful life lesson for you and I today is stop arguing with God. God doesn’t acknowledge the wall, why should we. But instead, we spend our life arguing with God. God, I got problems. I’m unemployed. I’m worthless. I got all these problems. The thing is God’s not saying that to you. We are saying that to ourselves. God’s not acknowledging your wall exists; He’s waiting for you to say I trust You Lord. I trust You Lord. Just like Joshua did in this story.
Now, how do I know that some of you are arguing with God? I’ll ask you a couple of questions. Are you feeling comfortable? Are you feeling peaceful? Are you feeling restful? Is your life in harmony? If not, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re arguing with God in your life. Now some of you say I’m not arguing with God, we just haven’t talked in awhile. That’s a great indication that you’re arguing with God. I’ve been married for 23 years and if I go a day without talking to my wife, she knows there’s a problem. She knows there’s a problem. God is the same. If you’ve gone a day, if you’ve gone an hour without talking to God, there’s a problem.
Your circumstances do not have to change for you to feel hope. Your relationship with God does. You hear that? Your circumstances do not have to change for you to feel hope. Your relationship with God does. And I’ll give you a scripture verse for that. Philippians 4:13, Dr. Schuller has used this a thousand times. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Now look at the verses right before it. Paul says: “I have learned in whatever state I’m in to be content. I have learned both to be full and to be hungry. I have learned both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That’s trust. That’s trusting in God. Paul’s circumstances did not need to change for him to feel hope. He wrote those words in prison, I can do all things through Christ. He wrote those words in prison, but look at that, Paul’s circumstances did not need to change for him to feel hope. His relationship with God took care of that all by itself. Your circumstances do not need to change for you to feel hope, your relationship with God does. So if you’re ready for some peace in your life, stop arguing with God.
And then the next point. Verse 3: “You shall march around the city, all you men of war. You shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And the seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the ark. But the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets.”
Why all this walking? That’s a lot of walking. You know I read that ancient Jericho that would have been about a one mile walk for all these people to walk, probably over a little bit of hilly ground and rocks and all that kind of thing. Why all of this walking? Why not does God just send a thunderbolt, tear a hole in the wall, Israel marches right in and takes care of business. It didn’t happen that way. God asked them to walk. Because the lesson is where you walk and how you walk through life is very, very important. Where you walk and how you walk through life is very, very important. And I learned that as a kid. I grew up in Denver and one winter we had a snow of about two feet. It was deep and you know that’s every child’s fantasy is go running out in the snow, so my dad goes outside and he’s about six foot six, long big strides, and he went outside to see if there’s was too much snow on the roof and it might collapse. Well I went tearing out after him, so I get outside and I’m a little kid and all of a sudden I’m waist deep in snow, I’m not going anywhere. I’m completely stuck until I saw my father in those big long strides as tall as he was; he just kind of marched right along. And when I realized that I could jump in his footprints, I got through pretty good. The minute I tried to go my own way, it didn’t work.
So what’s the life lesson? God’s walking and if I’m trying to go my own way, I’m waist deep in snow, I’m not going anywhere. But the minute I follow the Lord, oh that was easy. That felt pretty good. We’re dancing pretty good now hopping in the Lord’s footprints. Just think about that instead of wandering waist deep in snow going nowhere, you’re walking in the Lord’s footprints. Where you walk and how you walk through life is very, very important.
And this theme comes up time and time again in the bible. I’ll give you a few examples. We talked about Joseph a couple of weeks ago. Joseph had a dream his brothers were going to bow down to him, but he gets thrown in a pit, gets thrown into slavery, it looks like its all down hill but the good news is, that’s not the end of the story. Because we serve a good news God and the good news is Joseph walked the walk God wanted him to walk and he became the number two man in all of Egypt.
And then there’s Moses. He was the prince of Egypt, right? But he kills.. an Egyptian guard is beating a Hebrew slave; he gets banished into exile, runs for his life out into the desert, lives in the land of Midian for 40 years. But that’s not the end of the story because we serve a good news God. And a good news God said, He tapped Moses on the shoulder and Moses walked the walk God wanted him to walk, and delivered a nation.
Then there’s David. David’s a rising star, kills Goliath; he’s kind of on this wonderful track, everybody loves David except the king gets worried, so the king starts hunting him. David’s having to hide out in caves, but that’s not the end of the story because we serve a good news God. David walked the walk that God wanted him to walk and he became king.
Then there’s Saul in the New Testament. Saul was a very religious guy, but he was killing Christians. He was trying to stamp out this new thing called Christianity, right? But that’s not the end of the story because Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and because we serve a good news God, Saul walked the walk that God wanted him to walk and he became Paul, author of half the New Testament.
Now today, I’m looking at a David and a Mary and a Joe and a Harold and an Elizabeth. I’m looking at you today. You’re going through problems; you’re wandering through the wilderness of fear, of inadequacy, poverty, sickness, you’re wandering through that desert. Take your eyes off your circumstances because today is not the end of the story. We serve a good news God. We serve a good news God. Walk the walk that God has set before you and you will reach your Promised Land.
Does anybody here want to see their Promised Land? Does anybody want to see your Promised Land? Here’s how we get there. This is the last part of the story.
“And when you hear the sound of the trumpet that all the people shout with a great shout and then the walls of the city will fall down flat.” What brought down the walls of Jericho? That verse just told us praise. Praise brought down the walls of Jericho. When the people shouted praise to God, the walls of Jericho fell. When you thank God for the fear in your life, you are praising Him and saying thank You God that Your perfect love casts out fear. Thank You God for the worry in my life. You’re teaching me to live by Your promise when You said who of you by worrying can add one minute to his life. Thank You God that when I wait upon You, I will be renewed and soar on wings like eagles.
Oh Lord God, we are so in awe of You. You are so awesome. You are an amazing God. Your bible is alive today as if it was written yesterday. Every life we read in the bible has a parallel to us. It’s the same life we’re living today as was lived thousands of years ago. People have not changed Lord, but what’s great is You are unchanging. You never change. Your promises remain as true today as they did thousands of years ago. And Lord, because of that, we love You, we trust You, we praise You, You are our God, You are our King, Savior, Master, Lord and Friend. In Jesus’ precious name, amen, amen.