The Faithful
(Joshua 14:6-15) 

Sermon Summary

The story of Caleb and his "wholehearted devotion" to God provide from some foundational lessons on being faithful to Him today.  Caleb lived according to his convictions and almost got stoned to death by his own people.  He resisted temptation to abandon God's plan when his entire nation was standing against him.  And, he had to live alongside them through the punishment for their unfaithfulness.  However, he remained faithful through it all, and his life is a lesson to us to be faithful to the truth, in the temptation, and through the trials.    

Sermon Outline

Lessons on Faithfulness (From the Life of Caleb)

1. Be Faithful to the Truth (v. 7)
    -You don’t have to know fully to obey immediately
2. Be Faithful in the Temptation (v. 8)
    -God provides a way of escape.
    -It is better to battle against temptation together.
    -The reward of overcoming far outweighs the thrill of falling. 
3. Be Faithful through the Trial (v. 10)
    -Wealth can be found in the Wilderness
    -The Smallest amount of God’s power is more than enough for your Biggest problem. 
 

Small Group Discussion Guide

IceBreaker: Who is a person in your life that you consider to be faithful. Why?

1. In regard to being faithful to the truth, we learned that "we don't have to know fully to obey immediately."  Share an experience when you took a leap of faith without having all of the answers.

2. In regard to being faithful in the temptation, we learned that "the reward of overcoming far outweighs the thrill of falling."  In what ways has overcoming temptation been rewarding for you? In what ways has falling to temptation been a struggle?

-Sin is enticing and can be thrilling, but its effects are devastating and long lasting.  Overcoming      temptation will give you ultimate fulfillment because it brings you closer to the Lord.

1 Cor. 10:13 says, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Hebrews 4:14-16 says, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

3. In regard to being faithful through the trials, we learned that "wealth can be found in the wilderness (treasure can be found in the trial)."  In what ways have you grown spiritually by going through trials?   

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-7; 9-10 (NIV)


Full Sermon Notes

The Faithful
(Joshua 14:6-15)

Good morning. I hope you are doing well this week. To all of our guests here today, we welcome you. My name is Andrew Ogea and I am one of the Pastors here at Northshore. I am thankful once again to Pastor Larry who shares his preaching ministry some of his staff from time to time.

We have been going through a sermon series entitled “Christian Character” and have been preaching about specific characteristics that are vital to achieving the goal of becoming more like Jesus.

Last week you heard from our Executive Pastor Jay Victory, who did an outstanding job preaching on forgiveness and next week you will hear from our Student Pastor Luis Socarras, so definitely make plans to be here.

If you have your Bibles in hand, please open them Joshua 14. Today, we are talking about the Christian characteristic of faithfulness. Faithfulness is a characteristic of great significance for each of us.

The dictionary defines faithfulness as steady in allegiance and affection, loyal, committed, devoted, and constant. And, I do not believe that there is one person here today that would honestly prefer to be considered unfaithful.

If we could actually hear what is said at our own funerals, what parent would want to be remembered as unreliable? What spouse would want to be labeled as a cheater? What friend would want to be known as disloyal? What employee really wants to be considered dishonest? What Christian would want to be believed a fake? In the end, we all have a desire to be faithful, whether we are honest about it or not.

Today we are going to learn about a man who God considered fully faithful. His name is Caleb, and he is a Biblical character in the Old Testament. The story of Caleb is told in various forms in 3 Books in the OT: Numbers, Deuteronomy, and our main passage for today found in Joshua.

In Joshua, Chapter 14, Caleb is looking back on his life and he recalls his journey of faithfulness to our God. And through his story, we can glean some basic lessons on being faithful to God. So let’s read from Joshua 14:6-7.

Joshua 14:6-7.

Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions,

This land Caleb was sent to explore is called the Promised Land. This is the land that God promised to Abraham centuries before. In Genesis 15:18 says, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—“

Now, centuries have passed between the time of the promise to Abraham and the account of Caleb. During this time, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for roughly 400 years. And in the book of Exodus we see God miraculously preparing the way, and using Moses to lead the Israelites out slavery in Egypt, toward freedom in the land that he had promised to them.

After centuries of hardship and hearing about a promise that numerous generations were unable to see fulfilled, the Israelites arrive at the borders of the land. And in the book Numbers 13:1, the Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.”

So, Moses selects one man from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, and sends them to spy on the land for 40 days. They collected samples of the produce of the land. They gathered intelligence on the people who resided in the land, and then came back to report on what they found.

Numbers 13:27-28, says, They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.

Basically, the spies were saying, “yeah the land is great, but there is no way we are getting through those walls and through those powerful people. And this is the point where Caleb takes the stage

In Numbers 13:30, Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” And he goes on to say in chapter 14:7-9,

“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

This is the report that Caleb is talking about in verse 7 of our text today; the report brought back to the people of Israel according to his conviction. And herein lies the first of three lessons for faithfulness. If your taking notes write this down.

1. Be Faithful to the Truth

Did you know that God is true? Everything is right about him. He is consistent and trustworthy in all things. Deuteronomy 32:4 says, He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Caleb knew and believed the truth about God’s promise to give them the land. He had seen first hand that the it was good, and he had assurance that God would be pleased with them to take it.And most importantly, he believed that they had nothing to fear because God would be with them. Caleb knew that standing upon the truth, upon God’s promise, was the only way to freedom.

There are some you here today that need to be set free. You have been a slave to sin for far too long, and the truth is that God has promised you freedom if you would turn from your sin and toward faith in Jesus Christ.

John 8:31-32 says, To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Romans 6:19b-23 speaks more about this truth, "I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Freedom is possible today for those who believe in the truth. Some of you here today need to be faithful to that truth by accepting it in faith for the first time.

In addition to Caleb believing the truth about God and his promises, when then the time came, he stood, silenced the crowd, and gave a report of the truth according to his convictions. So another part of being faithful to the truth is not just knowing and believing it, but also sharing it.

Most of us in this room would be absolutely devastated to know that someone has been selfishly holding onto the cure for cancer while we have watched love ones struggle, or have gone through the battle ourselves. Likewise, millions of people in the world would be outraged to find out that someone has been selfishly holding on the cure for AIDs and not sharing it with those who cannot live without it.

How much more devastating is it that we as believers often hold onto the truth that gives spiritual life to those who are perishing. A famous missionary by the name of C.T. Studd said this,

“Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.” ― C.T. Studd

Now, the excuse that I hear often about coming to faith in God or sharing our faith in God is, “I don’t know enough.” I don’t know enough about God, or I want to know more about Him before I make a decision to follow God. And in the same way, you might think “I don’t know enough about God to share his truth with others. If either of these are your way of thinking, I want to challenge and encourage you with this truth,

1. Be Faithful to the Truth
-You don’t have to know fully to obey immediately

There will be things that we will never fully know about God. You haven’t been given knowledge about everything, but God requires us to be faithful to what we have been given. Lesson #1, Be faithful to the truth and understand that you don’t have to know fully to obey immediately. Let’s move on to our second lesson from Caleb’s story. Let’s continue reading in Joshua 14:8

But my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear.

Caleb had 11 other spies go with him into the Promised Land, and we know from the account in Numbers that ten of the spies reported the land was not good enough, the cities were too fortified, and the people were giants that would destroy them. And their reports made the hearts of the people melt with fear.

The people started to grumble and complain, and even went so far as talking about selecting leaders to take them back to slavery in Egypt. And we know from the account that Caleb and Joshua were the only people stepping forward while the others stepped back. In the second part of verse 8, Caleb said,

I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.

So our second lesson on faithfulness today is this:

1. Be Faithful to the Truth
2. Be Faithful in the Temptation

Can you imagine being one of only two people standing up against an entire nation. How easy would it have been for them to just say, “man we are just messing around, you guys are right. It would be crazy to go into that land. Let’s go back to Egypt.” But they didn’t. They followed God wholeheartedly.

When I lived in New Orleans a few years ago, I had a friend that moved from Florida to the New Orleans Baptist Seminary, and we started serving together in the same ministry. This guy was a Miami Dolphins fan. He would wear the shirts, and always would say, “Go Fins!” whenever we talked about the Saints. Pretty annoying.

But something started changing over the 2009 season. We would watch the games at the church together, and during that undefeated stretch of the Saints going 13-0, my friend started wearing his Dolphins shirt less and less. When the Saints made it to the playoffs, he stopped saying Go Fins.

And the city was electrified when the Saints made it to the Super Bowl. When I got to the Super Bowl party that night, guess who I saw in his brand new Saints jersey. My friend, the Dolphins fan. To this day, he would swear to you that he wasn’t really a Dolphins fan, and that he had always liked the Saints.

It’s amazing how easily we are swayed. It’s a fact. Whenever you strive to be faithful to the truth, you will encounter temptation to be unfaithful. Sometimes it is very subtle. Other times, it is very intense.

Some of you are like me, and we fight the temptation to eat more than we should. Some of us are fighting against an addiction. Others are fighting the temptation to be unfaithful in marriage. Not one of us is perfect. The point is that not one of us will be spared from temptation in this life. But there is good news.

Hebrews 4:14-16 says, Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

For those of us that are Christians, we hold onto the truth that we have been saved. Ephesians 2:8, It is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is finished. It is done. Now, we also believe the promise that one day we will be saved.

1 Peter 1:5 says, you through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You see, the believers in Christ will one day be save and made completely perfect as we experience salvation in heaven with Christ.

But what about the in between; between having been saved and going to be saved, there is this gap called life? You say, I am still struggling now. I know I have been saved and will one day be perfect with him in Heaven, but I am still facing the same temptations now.

Be encouraged with 2 Corinthians 4:16, for it says, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

You see, we get stuck in a rut of disfunction because we know that we have been saved, yet we still struggle to overcome temptation. The problem is that we view being saved as a project that should produce immediate day to day results with those struggles and temptations, and we get discouraged when it doesn’t. In doing so, we miss the reality that we are in a process by which God is renewing us day by day. You see, God forgives your sin in an instant, but your struggle with it continues for a lifetime.

So, there are three truths that I want you know as we strive to be faithful in the temptation. The first is that God provides a way escape.

2. Be Faithful in the Temptation
-God provides a way of escape.

In the Numbers, we find that after pleading the Israelites and assuring them that they could take the land, the entire assembly of people talked about stoning Caleb and Joshua. Surely, it would be even more tempting to cave when people want to kill you. But the Lord stepped in and did not allow it to happen. God promises the same thing for you.

1 Cor. 10:13 says, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endureit.

God provides a way of escape, so be looking for it and run to it when temptations comes. The second truth about being faith in the temptation is that It is better to battle against temptation together.

2. Be Faithful in the Temptation
-It is better to battle against temptation together.

Caleb had Joshua standing beside him and they were able to press on together. Likewise, we can better withstand the temptation to sin if we stand firm together. So, don’t continue to live this life in isolation. Let a brother or sister walk beside you in whatever situation you are dealing with.

James 5:16 says, Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. It is better to battle against temptation together. God designed it that way. The third truth regarding our battle against temptation is the

2. Be Faithful in the Temptation
-The reward of overcoming far outweighs the thrill of falling.

Listen to the reward that Caleb receives for being faithful in the temptation. Continuing on in Joshua 14-8-9,

but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

He followed the Lord and God rewarded his faithfulness. He told him that the land that he had walked on while he was a spy would be his inheritance. Don’t you know that Bible says that you will be rewarded for your faithfulness as well.

Ephesians 6:7, says, Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do

Sin can be thrilling while we are in the middle of it. The temporary high, the passion in the moment, the momentary gain are all enticing, but the lasting effects are devastating and filled with grief and regret. However, in overcoming the temptation, we experience a closeness with God and are in a position to receive his blessing, and that far outweighs the thrill of falling into sin. But remember, God is gracious, and he is patient.

This is not a one and done project. It is a lifelong process of being renewed day by day. Let’s move on to our final lesson of faithfulness for today.

Verse 10 of Chapter 14 says, “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!

It has been 45 years since Caleb was promised his reward for faithfulness, but he still hasn’t received it. God punished the people of Israel for their faithlessness. The generation that rebelled was not able to enter the promise land.In fact, anyone who was over the age of 20 at the time was not be allowed to inhabit the land, except for Caleb and Joshua. Here is lesson number 3:

1. Be Faithful to the Truth
2. Be Faithful in the Temptation
3. Be Faithful through the Trial

It must have been incredibly difficult for Caleb to spend 45 years in wilderness. He had to endure the punishment along with the others even though he was faithful. IT WASN’T HIS FAULT. And I imagine that with every year that passed, and every person that died, his heartache must have gotten deeper and deeper.

I just have to read the prayer requests from the worship guide to know that there are many of you going through some very difficult trials right now. And the trial may be the result of the faithlessness of others. It may be the result of yours. It may not be anyone’s fault, but the reality is, you are still in it.

I want to encourage you with a couple truths as we pursue faithfulness through the trial. The first is that wealth can be found in the wilderness.

3. Be Faithful through the Trial
-Wealth can be found in the Wilderness

I want to tell you another story real quick. In January 1993, the Gelaras volcano, located in Colombia, South America, suddenly erupted. One week later, a geologist was sampling some rocks near gas vents in a canyon west of the volcano summit.

While he was cutting some of the rocks open, he found that there was gold in them. In fact, quite a bit of gold. The naked eye could actually see tiny gold nuggets in the slices of rock.

This discovery was unique, because it was the first time scientists had detected visible gold particles in an active volcano. And more than a year later, this geologist announced that the Galeras volcano was spewing more than a pound of gold each day into the atmosphere, and depositing forty-five pounds of gold a year into the rocks lining its crater.

He explained that magma from inside the earth has many components, including gold, and estimated that there is a gold vein at the base of this volcano that is at least ten feet wide. In this intensely hot and pressure filled environment of a volcano, something of great value was discovered.

Some of you are going through fiery trials and pressures right now that are intense and difficult to bear. But, God wants you to know that even there in the midst of it all, he can bring forth spiritual gold.

When you draw near to God in the trials, you attain valuable faith, character, and wisdom. Now, God may call you to lift or split some rocks in the process, but if you stay faithful to Him, if you stay close to him, you will come out of the trial with a strengthened relationship with our God. And that is more valuable than gold.

Folks, Wealth can be found in the wilderness. Stay near to God, and you will find spiritual treasure in your trial. That is great news for some of you today.

The second truth I want to encourage you with in being faithful through the trial is this:

3. Be Faithful through the Trial
-The Smallest amount of God’s power, is more than enough for your Biggest problem.

In verse 11-12, Caleb says,

I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Even after the 45 years in the wilderness, Caleb still had yet to defeat the strongest people, and the most fortified cities in the land to inherit what God had promised him. But notice what he said, “But, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said. God wants you to know that he is powerful enough to help you defeat the giants in your life. There is no problem to big,

1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10-12 says,

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-7; 9-10 (NIV)

I hope this is sinking in: The smallest amount of God’s Power, is more than enough for your biggest problem. In the last verses of our text , we see that the promise to Caleb is finally fulfilled.

Verse 13-14 says, Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.

God fulfilled his promise and gave Caleb his inheritance. And wouldn’t you know that God has given us an inheritance as well.

Colossians 1:12-14 says,

Give joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As we close, I hope the life of Caleb has been encouraging and challenging today. We learned some incredible lessons of faithfulness from story. But, I want to remind you that even he was not perfect. Caleb was human, just like you and me.

But, we know the one who is perfect. Our Lord Jesus Christ who was not only faithful to the truth, but he is the truth. He was faithful in every temptation, and so he knows how to help us when we are tempted.

He was faithful through trials of life, most importantly, his faithfulness to die on the cross which provided an inheritance for all who will call on him as Lord. So, as Jesus walked in complete faithfulness, let us in a response by following in his footsteps, by being faithful to the truth, in the temptation, and through the trial.