Series: Grow Strong
Sermon: Growing Why?
Speaker: Japhet De Oliveira
Writer: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin today in prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Joshua 20 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: When I first moved to Michigan and in particular to the small town of Berrien Springs, one of the first things that struck me about the houses was that none of them had fences. This was rather perplexing at first—especially when it came to mowing the lawn. Each neighbor cut their lawn at a different height. At times I wondered if I had crossed over and claimed more land this week—or if my neighbors were trying to claim more of my yard. Where I live now in Boulder, Colorado, there are fences. This makes me feel like I am back in England. The difference is that only a few neighbors ever stand chatting over your fence, peeking, leaning, and talking. Why do we need fences? To keep things in or out?
At this point in the story, Israel has done well dividing the land among millions of people. Joshua is older and wiser. Yet with all these people and the land wide open, there seems to be a need to put up a few fences. In particular, they determined the need for one city designated is a city of refuge, offering justice for those in need.
Can you imagine the complexity of this proposal? For Joshua to ask for a city to be set aside for justice is to imply that the local communities are not capable of justice. They would likely have taken great offense at this implied insult. But Joshua is simply older and wiser at this point in his life. He is willing to stand up for weaker individuals in his community—for the oppressed and for the victims. He is willing to create a safe space for those who would otherwise be ostracized, and to allow justice to be completed in due process without prejudice.
Recalibrate: What needs to change in your Church to make it safer for everyone?
Respond: Pray for the courage to speak up for the weaker people in your community.
Research: Explore the model in Europe of building safe spiritual homes.
Live Wonder (ages 0–3): Using blocks or Lego, build a place of safety. Talk to your child about all the things this place could protect the people inside against. Pray to Jesus together that He will keep all of you safe always.
Live Adventure (ages 4–11): Take two eggs or imagine two eggs with your child. If you just looked at the eggs, could you tell which one was hard boiled and which one was raw? How would you test them? Could you smash them one at a time on your head? Nope. Could you throw them in the air and let them land on the floor? Nope. Could you take them in your hand and gently shake them one at time? Yes. People look the same, but we are all going through a lot. We should treat each other gently.
Live Purpose (ages 12–16): Every single day, without fail, you face changes of some kind. New assignments from school, new challenges, new desires, new secrets, new problems to be solved. This can be a lot to process. Where does Jesus fit into all of this and how can He help? To not get overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is face at least one thing head on. Find one person at Church who can help you process all the change in your life.