We talked last week about the journey of faith for the people of Israel and how there is a parallel for us as individuals on our journey of faith and how, as a Church, we stand at a unique place of having crossed a metaphorical Jordan and taken certain faith steps toward what is part of a new season of influence and harvest for us being our new facility.
If you missed last week it will really make a lot of sense if you go back and listen to that message as well as today.
We looked at the people of Israel who:
- Crossed the Jordan – which put them in the promised land
- But they had to conquer Jericho to possess and live in the promised land
We believe for us as a Church that completing and moving into our new facility is taking our Jericho and preparing us to move into and possess God’s promise, prophetic words, our destiny as a Church.
But between Jordan and Jericho were two things:
- One was a pile of stones – Faith stones – a memorial to God’s miracles in the past
- The other was an act of obedience – which represented a trust in God’s miracles for the future
Let me explain:
Joshua 5:2-9 (NIV)
2 At that time the Lord told Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise this second generation of Israelites.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the entire male population of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth (which means hill of foreskins).
4 Joshua had to circumcise them because all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died in the wilderness. 5 Those who left Egypt had all been circumcised, but none of those born after the Exodus, during the years in the wilderness, had been circumcised. 6 The Israelites had travelled in the wilderness for forty years until all the men who were old enough to fight in battle when they left Egypt had died. For they had disobeyed the Lord, and the Lord vowed he would not let them enter the land he had sworn to give us—a land flowing with milk and honey. 7 So Joshua circumcised their sons—those who had grown up to take their fathers’ places—for they had not been circumcised on the way to the Promised Land. 8 After all the males had been circumcised, they rested in the camp until they were healed.
9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
Originally, I was going to talk about the two piles between Jordan and Jericho, a pile of rocks and a pile of foreskins, but no-one wants that image do they?
Perhaps that was part of motivating them to defeat Jericho because no one wanted to sit around where that had happened – that was a day they were all trying to forget.
So, what has happened and what is the significance?
Between Jordan and Jericho was:
- A pile of faith, memorial stones
- An act of obedience in them choosing to get circumcised
I want to show what an act of obedience does in moving us into God’s promises for our lives. As we stand on the eve of our Miracle Offering, what does this mean for us as individuals and a Church collectively?
An act or a step of obedience.
1. Shows we are willing to fight!
You see what had happened was all the males that had left Egypt and were of military age, were circumcised.
- That was part of their culture and the instructions or commands God had given them
- It was part of their identity as the people of God
- It signified that they were men and able to fight for God and His promises
Yet they died in the wilderness. Men of battle, but never in battle.
- Not in battle – though they were able
- Not possessing anything – though it was promised by God
- Not with courage or faith – though they had seen God’s miracles
Instead they lived and died:
- Looking back
- Wandering aimlessly
- So faithless and passive that God said they must die before anyone goes into the promised land
- Unwilling to believe God could do what He promised
- Unwilling to fight for that promise
So, where this becomes significant is that a whole new generation rose up that would believe God and would step out in faith.
But first God gives them an act of obedience to take, in order for them to move through to what He had promised. That step of obedience demonstrated their faith in God for the future and in doing so separated them from the faithless ones before them.
As believers at Connect Church, I want our kids, our city and the generations to come, to know we will fight for:
- God’s promises
- Our future – their future
- For our city and those without Jesus in it
- For our marriage and family
- For our blessing
- The generations to come
- The call and purpose of God for our lives
I would be heartbroken if the generations that follow us could look back and say that they died wandering, because of fear or unbelief, rather than fighting with faith for the future.
Let’s be those that use every bit of God’s armour because we are in the thick of the battle for the things that matter!
In regards to this, what is interesting to note is in v9.
Joshua 5:9 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.” So that place has been called Gilgal to this day.
As a people, they had been out of Egypt for some time now:
- Free from slavery
- Seen God do miracles
- Had provision
- Had God’s presence
Yet it is not till this point that Joshua finally says, “Now – the reproach of Egypt is off you?”
I used to assume the reproach of Egypt was the slavery, the bondage, the captivity, but they had been ‘free of that externally’ for over 40 years. Surely seeing God’s presence, miracles, provision etc was deliverance out of Egypt, but not according to the scriptures. They arrived a reproach (God’s disapproval) from Egypt.
The reproach of Egypt is not circumstantial or the past, it is rather an unwillingness to fight in faith.
- The reproach of Egypt is when people are willing to go around in circles and wander aimlessly through life, rather than rise up and take possession of God’s call, purposes and promises for their life and the generations to come.
We read in Psalm 78:9-10 (NIV) a comment on this
9 The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; 10 they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. 11 They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.
God considers ‘turning back on the day of battle’ a refusal to live by His laws.
What law? The law of faith!
Hebrews 11: 6 (NIV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God
Our acts of obedience today align us with God’s promises for tomorrow!
Acts of obedience:
2. They are uncomfortable!
The cost of:
- Fighting for the future
- For the generations to come
- For the lost who don’t know God in our city and beyond
- For our families
- For our Church and its destiny
- For impacting a region for God
It requires some discomfort on our part!
The sad part of the generations before this in the story, they never possessed the Promised Land because they were self-focused and more worried about their own comfort than embracing the discomfort of obedience and fighting for the generations to come!
As soon as discomfort came, they started complaining and wishing for the safety of slavery in Egypt! No wonder they never possessed anything. They were scared of being uncomfortable
But the new generation, the ones that possessed the promised land, they didn’t back down, they took on the challenge! They obeyed God regardless of the discomfort and they fought regardless of the challenge. They won a future for them and the generations to come!
The price of comfort for a Church by the way is irrelevance! We either fight for God’s kingdom and embrace discomfort, or wander in irrelevance.
Let’s be willing to act in obedience and step into great promise!
3. They usually cost something!
God is not interested in:
- Our seconds
- Our scraps
- Our tipping Him with leftovers
Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4 teach us that God doesn’t approve of a half-hearted effort ‘when I get around to it…’
David in Chronicles also makes this point.
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.”
There is something about a willingness to sacrifice and sow significant things that is attached to faith and stepping into God’s promises.
Where we are at as a Church right now:
- Building a facility to reach more lost people
- Building a facility to raise champions
- Building for the future generations
- Building something to unlock generosity
- Building something to shine God’s glory to our community
It has a cost, but it’s worth it! It takes a fight, but it’s worth it! It takes faith, but it’s worth it!
We can only do this together because people have risen in faith and taken bold steps of obedience and faith in God.
- It has brought us to here
- Now we are believing to see it finished. To see Jericho fall, our new season stepped into, kitted out ready to go
Connect Church was born through bold faith steps, miracles and people willing to take risks.
What I love and believe is significant for this Church is that its destiny is linked to its DNA. This place has people willing to fight in its history, and its future will be possessed by those willing to fight again!
I asked Pastor Tim Hall to share some of this with us as a Church, as I believe it speaks to what is in our DNA – what is in our future and it gives us courage to rise together today.
Tim shared his experience in stepping out in faith and birthing Connect Church with Pastor Ian Fenn.
He said that we, as a Church, are stepping into our destiny.
Pray for the Miracle Offering and pray for what God wants you to give.
Prepare your hearts for Miracle Sunday next week. Make a commitment to give and be obedient to what He has to say to you.
Suggestions for discussion
- Are you prepared to move into God’s promises for your life?
- Are you ready to take on the challenge of fighting for the next generation?
- Discuss why our acts of obedience today align us with God’s promises for tomorrow!
- Bold faith steps, miracles and people willing to take risks are what is needed now. What are you prepared to do to make this happen?