This message I believe is for all of us in our own faith journeys, but for those who are part of our church family it is particularly important, in regards to our Church’s faith step, to get into our new building.
There is found in through the books of Exodus to Joshua a fascinating story of the journey of God’s people:
- God’s people the Jews are freed from Egypt with a promise of the land of Canaan, modern day Palestine. There they would serve God, be blessed and demonstrate Him to the peoples of the world.
- An entire generation leaves Egypt on what should be a short journey to God’s promise.
- This generation however refuse to believe God and His promises, refuse to take steps of faith and end up dying in the desert over a 40 year period of wandering around in circles.
- A new leader, Joshua, rises up and a new generation believe God to move into His promises and place of blessing and influence.
- God takes them across an un-crossable river, the Jordan, by parting the waters that they could walk across on dry land.
- This puts them in the promised land, but it is still filled with enemies and challenge in order to possess it!
- They then have to take a city called Jericho that then opens them up to begin to possess and live in the blessing and influence God has for them.
- When they see Jericho fall and conquer that city, they all of a sudden change their history as God’s people and begin to demonstrate Him to their world in a whole new way.
I have no doubt that there is a significant parallel with the people of Israel leaving Egypt and possessing the promised land that is for every believer and our journey of faith, but I also feel that for us particularly there is a strong sense that this is also true for us as a Church right here, right now.
There are significant times and parts to history that bear great influence on the future!
- I see them as windows of opportunity that groups, or people, or even individuals, have to rise to an occasion and step up.
- The choice to go for it remains theirs, but the window is not open forever.
- I remember hearing a preacher speak on the opening of just such a God window over a particular area in our nation and the sadness that no-one rose to the occasion and it was over a decade before another significant, divine opportunity seemed to arise.
I believe we together as a Church stand at ‘such a time as this’.
- Esther had an opportunity that she couldn’t put off or reassign to a more comfortable time
- She couldn’t say, ‘I will tackle that later when I have a bit more relationship with the king…’
- It was a moment, a window, an opportunity to step up and make a significant influence on her people and generation
We stand in the middle of a window of opportunity!
- As a Church we have taken faith steps
- We have stepped out
- We are right on the edge of what I see as stepping into what God has for us
- And now this miracle offering, this window to give, is so key that it is our chance to take a step that propels us into a new day as a Church.
Even with COVID around us, I don’t believe it takes away, or changes the window of opportunity we have to step into something new, regardless of circumstances.
The people of Israel faced a similar time. There was an opportunity missed by the generations before, but then it came again, the opportunity to take up God’s purpose and intent and this time they rose in faith, stepped up to the challenge and won.
I think we stand like the people of Israel ready to walk through or over Jericho and begin to take some of the promises, prophecies and words from God and step into them. To begin seeing God move in this generation and the ones to come in an incredible way. This is our city and this is our time!
And let me be crystal clear:
This isn’t actually about a physical building! It’s about what we have always felt and talked about:
- Reaching more people – in our city with God’s love
- Raising champions, leaders of the future who are bold and take faith steps
- Building for the future – thinking of our kids and future generations
- Unlocking generosity – rising in faith to learn the power of generosity and miracle giving
- Revealing God’s glory to our community – reflecting Him in our facilities
Over the next three weeks I want us to understand the significance of where we stand today, what we believe is ahead and then how we get there!
Tegan and I felt called by God to move to Bendigo and take on the leadership of Connect Church in 2016.
- We have been blessed to see God’s goodness and fruitfulness and growth as a result
- But even early on we believed God was speaking to us about more for this church in the future
There is a rich history at Connect Church of prophetic words, of prayer, miracles, faith and revival.
- And we took some serious steps as a Church to move into that promise and future, one of the most significant I felt was in 2018 at our Miracle Offering.
I believe we crossed our Jordan River right there. The Jordan in the story was a river that they couldn’t cross in order to get onto the promised land.
- When we saw an incredible miracle offering of $380,000, it paid out our loan and put down a deposit for the building to begin moving into our future
- Many thought we were crazy, that it couldn’t be done, that it was too big, but God allowed us together to rise in faith and step toward His plans and purposes.
- This was such a significant thing and so together God allowed us to do something amazing
It truly was that which allowed us to step into the Miracle of a facility. That day pushed the water up and we were able to cross into new territory together.
However, in the story we find in the book of Joshua of the Israelites possessing God’s promised land, once they cross Jordan there is the city of Jericho that needs to fall.
- Jericho was the gateway to the promised land
- Crossing the Jordan put them in it, but to possess, it Jericho had to fall
We honestly believe as a team that finishing and opening our new facility is part of the gateway to what God has for us as a church for the future and for our city!
In the account there are two significant things between Jordan and Jericho for the people of Israel.
There were two piles between Jordan and Jericho
- Once was looking at God in the past for faith
- One was looking at God’s promise for the future
- One was a reminder of God’s faithfulness
- One was a looking ahead to promise
- One represented the past
- One represented the future
- One was fought
- One was to fight
The first pile between Jordan and Jericho was a pile of stones that pointed to the past.
These stones were collected and piled for a specific purpose from the Jordan River and piled up for people to see.
Joshua 4:21-23 (NIV)
21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b]when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over.
It tells us that the stones were supposed to be there so that future generations would look and see and ask what they were for – the explanation would then be about the miracle of crossing the Jordan and being brought out of Egypt. The generations to come would look and know that God moves in the realms of the impossible!
1. These were significant stones!
– not a couple of rocks in the back pocket.
This pile of stones was to be significant enough that anyone who walked past would say – “what is that?” They would notice it.
I believe that what we are building is significant!
- We have not sold land or assets to do it – this is important.
- We have taken a faith steps to build a facility that is significant – it’s big – it’s well built – it says something
- We haven’t built a half finished shed because ’that’s what we had!’
- We have built a great facility because that is what we see
- We have built this with vision and the future generations in mind, not our own comfort, safety, conservative planning
It is important that we do this well, build something we are proud of, put a footprint that shows God’s supply and blessing to our City.
Isaiah 60:1 was part of God’s leading when we first took this journey of faith on.
Isaiah 60:1-4 (NIV)
60 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. 3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Gentiles – those without God will come to us because they see Gods glory on us.
We need to finish this and finish it well if we are going to give our kids some faith stones worth looking at!
- In fact on September 13th Tegan and I want to walk the whole Church through some of the incredible parts to this faith journey that many don’t even know because as a Church we need to know God has brought us this far and we can rise in faith to possess the Promised Land!
This isn’t just for us as a Church and our facility. It is for every one of our lives. To show what significant faith steps have we taken and what things in lives we can point to and say: ‘That is what God has done!’
- Is our prayer life significant?
- What faith steps in family, life, career, business, ministry have we taken for God’s purposes that are significant?
- What times in our life have we made a significant decision or faith step for God?
- Surrendering our lives to Him is significant
- Baptism – public declaration of our faith is significant
This is a challenge for every one of us as there is always another faith step to take.
- What has God spoken to us about or is speaking to us about?
For some the challenge today is that you have had a significant faith step on your radar that you are yet to take!
- We can only ever point to faith stones that prove God and his faithfulness on the other side of the Jordan after we have taken a step of faith
A significant faith step that leaves something for us and generations to look at will always be scary and require faith! It is something we carry that requires sacrifice, effort or weight, because our kids and generations need to see it and it should build Faith!
We refuse to build God something that doesn’t stretch us or challenge us.
We are determined that those who come, find Jesus here, our kids that grow up here, that God is powerful and above measure – not average! But there is always a cost to significant faith stones!
1 Chron 21:24 (NIV)
24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
These stones were not little rocks they popped in a back pocket, but significant stones that took effort, strain, challenge, probably difficulty to move and pile up!
The other thing of note for this first pile between Jordan and Jericho is:
2. These were taken from a Miracle!
A place that should never have happened!
There is something about where something is taken that gives it significance.
The stones in the story were taken from the dried bed of the Jordan river which they crossed miraculously.
- The people of Israel should never have left Egypt let alone crossed the Jordan!
- It was impossible!
This is important as a requirement for Faith Stones because they are to be a memorial to God.
- Not luck
- Not our efforts
- Not a plan we could pull off on our own
- Not a plank from a bridge they build
Stones – from the place they should not have been able to be!
When I consider the last 5 years, we are standing in a place we shouldn’t be!
- Many watching today know it – they cannot believe what we are doing
- One of the builders stood and looked at it and his comment was – it’s an amazing set up for a Church!
Yes it is! It is impossible – yet here we are!
- I cannot wait to have to explain to people how we arrived here in the middle of a global pandemic
- I cannot wait for people to walk in and be blown away that a Church would do something like this
- I cannot wait to remind our boys when they head out to plant churches or missions and serve God, that they grew up in a Church that was not afraid to step into the impossible – depend on a miracle
Again, in our own lives, let’s make sure the things we turn to focus on are from places of:
Miracle, Breakthrough, Promise.
We must refuse to let the things we turn to be:
- Hurt from the past
- Times of disappointment
- Failures of leaders or people in our lives
- Times of comfort or ease
- Relationships that drag us into negativity or away from God
Faith stones come from the seasons of miracle and power of God in our lives!
I suppose it’s the same challenge and encouragement really.
- Have we put ourselves in a faith step significant enough that it required God to do the impossible for it to come off?
- If not, it’s not really a faith step, it’s a good move or calculated result
- But our God id moved by faith!
- He rewards faith!
As a Church I honestly believe that we can look back on this journey and say, “Wow God met us” and it will point the way for future faith steps and break through.
If we ever want to possess the promises that God has for us, particularly big and audacious, faith filled ones, we will need to move from the edge of the Jordan through Jericho.
- Between those places the first thing that we will find is a pile of faith stones that point to the power and provision of God in the past!
Today I hope that we are encouraged and challenged about this move from Jordan to Jericho.
- We are believing that it will not just be our Church that sees breakthrough, but every individual and every family
- That this would be a season of unlocking the impossible in God!
Suggestions for discussion
- Are you ready to cross over ‘your Jordan’ to receive your miracle?
- Can you take your ‘faith stones’ as you cross over and build them on the other side as a reminder of what God has done for you?
- Are you believing for a breakthrough in your lives today and looking to unlock the impossible in God?