Today I get to finish an impromptu three-part series which I feel has been a prophetic word for us as a Church.
We’ve been looking at the journey of the Israelites.
Two weeks ago I spoke about “Leaving Egypt.” We looked at leaving 2020 in 2020. Leaving the past behind. From Exodus we looked at the difference between the Israelites and Moses.
The Israelites – born in slavery, saw themselves as slaves, had a slave mentality, acted out of fear and doubt.
Moses – raised as royalty, knew who he was and who God had created him to be, his identity was that of royalty, chosen and called by God, he had a faith-based mentality, he believed God and took Him at His word and that impacted his activity, he saw miracles, he rescued his people.
Last week we had a powerful follow-on message from Pastor Bruce – “Prepare Yourself,” where we looked at the next phase of the journey. Moses had died after he anointed Joshua to take his place and lead the new generation of Israelites into the promised land. It was a powerful message about preparing ourselves for what God already has ready for us.
My key takeaways were.
- Get ready to take new ground in 2021
- No opposition will be able to stop you
- You will be prosperous and successful
- God will go with you
- Get ready with an expectant faith!
This morning I want to finish what has become an un-planned three-part series which I believe is prophetic for us as a Church and as individuals as we look towards the year ahead and the season ahead of us.
Stepping out of the year that was 2020. Stepping out of the past seasons. Leaving Egypt, getting ready for what God has prepared for us. Going where we have never been before.
There’s a scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice is walking along and comes to the Cheshire Cat.
Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”
Alice: “So long as I get somewhere.”
The Cheshire Cat: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
So, let’s jump straight into the word this morning…
Joshua 3:1-4 (NLT)
“Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia Grove and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. 2Three days later the Israelite officers went through the camp, 3giving these instructions to the people: “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them. 4Since you have never travelled this way before; they will guide you. Stay about half a mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer.”
Joshua 3:4 (NKJV)
“Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.”
If you don’t care where you’re going or if you have no direction for your future, then it doesn’t really matter what you do or which way you go. However, I have a strong sense of faith and expectation that we are heading into a season, as individuals and as a church, in which we will see the fulfilment of God’s promises.
2020 has been a year of challenge, a year of change, a year of taking stock and for a lot of people, a year of resetting for a new world which is framed by a lot of uncertainty.
I don’t know about you, but I love adventures. I love going to places I’ve never been to before. I love exploring new cities and having new experiences. Not from the perspective of achieving something I’ve never achieved before or setting out on a journey with a specific purpose, but rather, just wandering along for the sake of seeing some sights and enjoying new surroundings.
When Kate and I opened a gym in 2019 we chose a franchise because we had no experience running a gym.
- We didn’t know what was required.
- We didn’t know the protocols.
- We didn’t know the systems.
- We didn’t know the sales and marketing strategies.
- We didn’t know what insurances were required.
- We didn’t know how to train staff for a gym.
- We didn’t have personal training or nutrition qualifications.
So, we chose a franchise which would provide us with all of that. We made sure we had a plan to follow which would hopefully get us to the outcome we desired; helping people change their lives through mindset, nutrition and training!
It required us to do things we’d never done. We had to go places we’d never been. We needed to learn things we didn’t know. We had to stretch and grow and develop and get uncomfortable.
For us as a Church and as individuals, we are in a season of stepping into God’s plans and purposes for us, which means we are stepping into the unknown, the unfamiliar and potentially, the uncomfortable.
What we see happened with the Israelites.
As we’ve talked about, the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. Then God called Moses to rescue them.
Simply because the Israelites were not willing to go where they had not been before, step into a land of the unknown, they ended up in Groundhog Day, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, a journey which should have taken them 11 days.
30 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.” 31 But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. 33 We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.”
Their identity as slaves, dictated how they saw themselves, and their ability to do what God was calling them to do.
After the Exodus, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before God got them ready to step into what he had prepared for them.
And this is where we step into the picture today…
1After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
So, this morning I want us to look at what God told the Israelites to do to enter their promised land.
The way God prepared the Israelites to step into the promised land gives us a framework to follow to set ourselves up as we move forward into what God has for us as individuals and as a Church.
1. Go All In
v5 Purify yourselves
OR Consecrate yourself – set yourself apart
Set apart for a purpose. Not half in, half out, not sitting on the fence, not waiting to see what will happen next or keeping your options open.
What does that look like?
Lay aside the weight AND the sin, the things which will slow us down on the journey, the race God has called us to run.
- Pain from the past – hurts, challenges, mistakes, our own faith journey
- Old identities, old mentalities
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
- Washing of the word
- Get your house in order
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”
Once you’ve taken things off you want to put some things back on.
We don’t run the race naked. We also don’t run the race with inappropriate clothing.
You don’t put on a big snow jacket, jeans and big work boots if you’re going to run a marathon. You put on appropriate clothing and gear for the journey ahead.
- Put on – identity, mentality, activity
- Put on – positive relationships
- Put on – good habits
2. Lift your expectation for tomorrow
v5 “Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you.”
Expectations influence our reality. Focus – what you look for is what you will see.
Our mentality impacts our activity and our results
Les Brown – “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.”
What you feed on will determine what grows. Surround yourself with people of faith, speak words of faith.
Do you lay your head on the pillow at night with the expectation and excitement to go to sleep because when you wake up the next day you are expecting that God will do great wonders in your world?
What builds faith and expectation?
“So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
- Feeding on the word.
- Feeding on testimonies of God’s goodness, his love, his grace, his mercy, his power.
3. Pursue God’s Presence
v3 “When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them.
The Ark was a physical representation of God’s presence. It represented – God’s power, God’s provision, God’s presence and God’s plans.
Pursue God’s presence – where God is. If you want to hear someone when they are
speaking to you, you position yourself close to them.
When I’m crossing the road, I’ll grab my boys by the hand and walk them through the danger. For us as we walk into the unknown, into places we have not been before – we need to stay close to God.
Hone your spiritual eyes and ears – your spiritual senses. Look for God in your everyday world. Create an awareness as you go about your day.
Ask God, where are you in this?
Practically, position yourself in:
- Connect Groups
- Prayer Meetings
- Your own private time
Follow God – where He is moving, where He is leading you. Learn to be led and guided by God’s presence. Seek Godly wisdom and wise counsel.
On earth as it is in heaven – pursue God’s way of doing things.
- Health – By His stripes we are healed
- Provision – I will supply all your needs according to my riches
- Miracles – Tomorrow I will do great wonders among you
For us to step into the promises God has for us – a place where we have not been before, a journey we have not travelled before, as opposed to reliving the past, we need to follow the one who designed the plan.
I believe where God has a plan, He will also have a strategy. God knows the start from the finish, he knows the journey ahead, so it would be wise for us to follow Him.
- In prayer
- In reading our bibles
- In Godly wisdom
- In honing our spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear where God’s presence is leading us
- In fasting
Pursue God’s presence, pursue God’s provision and pursue God’s power.
4. Get your feet wet
v 8 “Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.”
Remember the original instructions and promise for the Israelites.
“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them – the children of Israel. 3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.
The promise was that God would give them every place that the sole of their foot would tread.
The first instruction given to set up the miracle that would be the river Jordan crossing which then began the journey of taking the promised land, was to put their feet down in the river.
God required them to take a step of faith, to have some skin in the game BEFORE He caused the miracle to happen.
The priests carrying the Ark had to take a few steps into the river. They had to risk their egos and their pride. They had to get their feet wet and THEN God caused the miracle to happen.
What if it didn’t work? What if God didn’t do what Joshua had said He would do?
We all are faced with these questions as we step out in faith. But only when we act do we then give God the opportunity to show up.
Asking to pray for someone who is sick. Sharing your faith with a friend or a relative. Speaking a word of faith, a word of wisdom or a prophetic insight with someone who doesn’t know God yet. Acting on a prompt from God to give in an offering, or to someone in need. All these first require us to be honing our spiritual senses – looking for where God is in our world and seeing or hearing His promptings and then getting our feet wet by stepping out.
Stepping out in faith – is an action or an activity, which can only stem from having our identity firmly founded in knowing who God is and who He has created you to be.
The more confidence you have in your relationship with God, and knowing your identity in Him as royalty, as someone who is called and chosen by Him, the more confidence you will have to get your feet wet, to step into the impossible, to step into the flooded waters with the confidence that when you do what God has asked you to do, He will do the rest.
It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, 16the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho. 17Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by. They waited there until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
One thing to note is that they were standing in the middle of the river, with the Ark of the Covenant. God’s presence was right there with them in the middle of their faith step which ended up being a miracle recorded in history that millions of people look back on with great amazement.
Where is God calling you to step out in faith?
What is God calling you to step into?
Where is God calling you to get your feet wet? For you to take a step, for God to then show up in your circumstances or the lives of those around you?
5. Be strong and courageous
6“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful. In everything you do. 8Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
This was really the prequel to the previous four instructions, but I wanted to finish with it because I know that in this new season, we are going to require STRENGTH and COURAGE.
The promised land wasn’t a place where the Israelites were handed everything on a silver platter. They had to fight giants. They had to overcome the walls of Jericho. They had to take the land that was given to them by God.
Our season of promise isn’t going to be handed to us.
We are going to have to be STRONG.
We are going to have to be COURAGEOUS.
We are going to have to be DISCIPLINED.
But we know as it says in verse 9…
The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
God is setting us up to step into His plan, His purposes and His promises.
What do we need to do to experience all that He has for us?
- Go all in – strip off, wash down and put on
- Lift our expectations for tomorrow
- Pursue God – His presence, His power, His provision
- Get our feet wet – step out in faith
- Be strong and courageous
We don’t have to do it all.
We don’t even have to do it in our own strength.
We don’t even have to understand how.
As we commit.
As we have faith.
As we pursue Gods presence.
As we step out.
God will meet us there and He will step into our world…
- What we do with this?
- Are you all in with Jesus?
- Are you all in on God’s plan and purpose for your life?