Theme: Exponential Reloaded Series: Much Further, How far are you willing to go?
Joshua 3 -4
Having a family is an awesome and honorable thing. Today I am wearing a suit, from a couple that we were recently privileged to be their best couple. It suddenly dawned on us that we had taken up a great responsibility to walk with this couple and help them transition from a life of singlehood into marriage. Unfortunately it felt like we only had a week to prepare someone for a lifelong responsibility. I remember the night before meeting with the groom and the men in the usual men meeting and flooding him with advice and ideas on how to be a husband. There was much wisdom, but too much and too fast- there were about 10 formulas/ approaches given for your first night, managing money, planning for children, giving leadership and the list goes on- I wonder if he really caught any? Such a great responsibility too inadequate preparation.
Most men will agree with me, that this was probably the first time being prepared for a lifelong commitment if any. All our lives, the only preparation we know is ‘Mwanaume ni kujikaza’, which means whatever you do, you must find yourself on the other side. How do you prepare to go where you have never been before? And expected to thrive?
To exist is to change, to change is to grow and to grow is to overcome. Whether we like it or not, the world is drastically changing. Most of you will agree with me that we are already struggling to fit into the language, technology and culture of the times. While our Faith is built on historical facts written in scripture and told by the testimonies of those who have gone before- Our faith cannot be relevant and effective if it does not address the challenges of the future.
But too often we prepare too late, if any preparation at all. Today we ask, how do you go where you have never been?
This year we launched our theme Exponential Reloaded. We began a movement out to ignite a culture of multiplication- in order to reach wide, every believer must seeks to reproduce themselves as a disciple of Christ. As Lifespring God has given us a dream and a vision, Transformation through the Gospel of Jesus. Our mission is to reach the lost, bring about restorative impact in our world and reproduce disciples. There is a future that calls us to prepare for.
In this 2nd term we focus on going Much Further. We begin to explore what God holds in store for us and ask how we prepare. It must go beyond us. How do raise the next generation of disciples for this kind of impact. The question is “How far are you willing to go?
We are studying and learning from the book of Joshua through this term.
The last chapter of Deuteronomy is pivotal in the history of the Israelites as it marks the transition of one leader to another and indeed one generation to another. God had raised and used Moses as a pillar in shaping the faith of the children of Israel. The Nation was birthed and the Law was established. There were Great discoveries and God sightings. They came this far, But God had more in store.
While he saw the future, it was not his to trod but the next generation’s. The time was ripe for the Joshua generation. Those who will explore and colonize the earth with God’s agenda and expand his rule.
Turn with me to our text today as we follow on Joshua 3&4 but particularly 3:1- 17. The story of the children of Israel- Crossing River Jordan.
My thesis today is taken from the verse 5
Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things before you.
As I mentioned, a new dispensation of faith was dawning. Joshua in chapters one and 2 had received his commissioning to lead the children of Israel after taking over from Moses. God had raised Joshua through active apprenticeship with Moses. He was right and ripe for this season. He was Moses successor, one of only 2 adults who experienced slavery in Egypt and got into the Promised Land. In Joshua, He was commissioned for the journey ahead. God commanded him to be bold and courageous.
Unlike Moses whose task was to deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt and set up the Nation of Israel, God’s assignment to Joshua was to lead the Israelites in conquering new grounds and occupying the Promised Land. Moses depicts the character of our Lord Jesus as deliverer – He has delivered us from darkness into his light. Israel needed a savior to deliver them from Egypt.
But Joshua He was chosen as warrior- He depicts the character of our Lord Jesus as a conqueror. He did not just deliver us from Egypt and save us from our slavery, but our freedom is that we may conquer new grounds for him.
Some quick leadership lessons here is that- effective leadership is often the product of good preparation and encouragement in your assignment.
From Shittim they camped for 3 days before the Jordan River. Again these 3 days are very telling of a passage into a new season of LIFE. These 3 days you also recall was the time Jesus stayed in the grave. He died as a savior, but he rose as a conqueror on the 3rd day.
Camping at the boundary into Canaan, the river Jordan represented a baptism of this nation from just those saved but those sent. How did this crossing compare to another crossing they had done at the red sea? Crossing the red sea was a transition from slavery. Everything of Egypt had to die. Crossing the Jordan was a transition into conquest- The reality of the promise had to come alive.
I want to make a point here- that many of us, get stuck at the Jordan River.
It is possible that we as believers, the church can be stuck at the achievements of the Lord in delivering us and resign to the task ahead that we are called to conquer. When we lose this sense of mission our faith remains on the grave and never gets to see the light of resurrection.
God choses to grow our faith in two ways- Looking back in Thanks giving and looking forward in Faith. Growth requires that we are living in this dual of when I look back I am grateful, but I must look forward to keep moving.
It is for this reason that we must prepare the Joshua’s of our times.We must intentionally prepare for the next generation. Those who will look back and honor the savior through Moses ( you and I) but also those who will look ahead of the Jordan and live as conquerors through Joshua.
A faithful predecessor and clear picture of Canaan was the important balance that Joshua needed to be effective.
To the young men – Who is it that has gone before you to remind you of how far you have come, and do you have a clear picture of where God is calling you?
Again vs 5: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things.
The word Consecrate in Hebrew is Qadash which means set yourselves apart or devote yourselves as holy for the Lord.
Allow me to share 3 principles here on how do we prepare to Go where we have not gone before? What I believe God is calling us to as Lifespring Syokimau.
It may feel like and indeed we are in that Wilderness experience, there feels a scarcity and dryness, many resign during this period. Discouragement kicks in and we slowly are drawn to mourn the loss of Moses. We get stuck at what we have lost and lose focus on what we can gain. This is ripe season for the Joshua generation. We must make room. Allow me to share 3 principles for crossing our red sea situations whether in your life, family or collectively as the body of Christ.
The first is
- Sharpen your Devotion to God.
First the call to keep their eyes on the Lord. The Ark of the Covenant was Israel’s most sacred treasure. It was a symbol of God’s power and presence. Made of gold in a rectangular box shape with 2 cherubim whose wings faced each other, the ark contained the Ten Commandments (God’s Law) and the Jar of Manna (God’s Economy) and Aaron’s rod (The priest hood).These were strong symbols that shaped their worship and lifestyle. The centrality God’s Word, Strong trust in God’s economy for our provision and Strong Priesthood.
Vs 4-5: Since you have never walked this way, they will guide you.
But there is a caution, follow but make sure you don’t come too close, Keep a reverent distance.
Especially to the young men, this is very important while you follow God, watch that you do not become too familiar with God. The risk of young men becoming too buddy buddy with God is dangerous. While Moses taught on holiness and the distance, Jesus invites us to Grace to approach the throne, but we must not forget that God is not man, He remains God and we risk becoming too familiar. Worship dies when we become too familiar. God’s sovereignty far outweighs our desire to know him.
Second there is a call to purify themselves. This was always done before making a sacrifice or witnessing a great act of God. These outward action of shedding their baggage and uncleanliness, represented an Inner focus unto the Lord. They were to set themselves apart. Get rid of any baggage or uncleanliness that would distract their focus on God.
Sharpening our devotion is not an easy task. And indeed we will be forced to leave some things we sneaked out of Egypt that we still carry.
As we move further- God is calling us to watch our devotion. DO we still have that sharp focus on him as our God. Have we become too comfortable with some sinful behaviors and still expect to Cross. Has our worship lost it’s centrality from God to activities and routines of church and my favorites. There is a call to consecration.
- Set your foot on the water
The Israelites were eager to enter the Promised Land, conquer nations and live peacefully. But first they had to cross the now flood level waters of the Jordan River. God gave them specific instructions in order to Cross, the priests had to step into the water.
What if these priests were to be afraid to step into the water, what if they feared taking that first step?
What happened at the Jordan was important. Their step into the Jordan was important. What if nothing happens when they step into the Jordan? But at the first track of their feet, the waters receded. God responded to their step of faith. This was a decisive step. Israel did not grow of the wilderness – no amount of warning got them over. They had to step over into Canaan.
As a pastor and priests, and especially those who have gone before in faith- the rest will not cross the Jordan if we do not take the step into the water. God honors our faith when we model stepping on the water before others.
This is why I believe strongly that God has called me to step into the water. My step of faith into planting in TatuLIFE, is for me a strong call to obedience that will release others to cross over through their Jordan’s. We must model taking the risk. This is how we build the faith of the next generation.
They took the final step through the Jordan and the waters rolled back to block them forever from the wilderness.
Here is what God is saying to us, the reason why faith dies in the wilderness, is because there are no priests to step into the water. As men in our homes and in the church, the next generation will not grow up in their faith if all they keep hearing is old adventures of what we used to do, but in how today we model before them …stepping into the water.
What does this look like- We must nurture a working faith by intentionally risking, investing and giving ourselves even to these young people that seem at the moment not to care what’s going on. If we believe in the God who called us at Lifespring- we must invest. I challenge us to look at our facilities in this way. I challenge us to look at our giving in this way? Your being faithful is stepping on the water, so that others may cross into the Promised Land.
Allow me here to address the subject of giving. Giving is not only looking back to thank God for how far we have come or for what He has given. That would be a very too small and selfish reason to give. Our giving is an act of worship that echoes to the next generation that we believe in the God who dwells inside of them. The more you invest, the more you believe. The more you step, the further they will go.
Lastly is the
- Remember to Carry a Stone
After they Crossed, God directed Joshua to have the leaders of the Israelites to go back into the river floor where the priests stood and carry some stones from the floor of Jordan and thereafter set them up as a memorial of this great show of Crossing over.
Don’t miss this important point. What are the stones of crossing the Jordan that will speak into the next generation?
While we prepared the couple for their wedding, I was given the wedding rings to hold. They looked beautiful and new. It was a little sad comparing them to mine. My wedding ring has faded and lost it’s lesture.
In the same way I remember coming across my father’s ring- it is an older ring compared to mine.
Yet that older ring on that same finger, is a greater testament that marriage works and that it is possible to stay married. And now I cherish even more my old ring. And I pray that Jeremy my son or grandson will not buy a wedding ring, but I will still have my ring to hand over to him as a testament that Marriage as God ordains it works.
What if these are the symbols we gave to the next generations, what if these are the stones we left them? Not so much the glamour and fancy of new jewels in the stores, but the old stones that tell the story of God’s faithfulness. Something tells me divorces and family breakdowns will be rear.
What stones are we careful to carry from the Jordan floor?
As you have journeyed as a believer God has taken you through breakthroughs again and again- which are those stones that will speak to the next generation. Your first moments, blessings.
One of those old things apart from the ring from my father is coming across his first pay slips and oh how I have valued my dad, but how I am motivated to do more for my generation.
And then my Dad’s broken suit that I wore to my first job interview. Although it was old and outfashioned, it gave me the confidence and assurance of my father. What stones have you carried as a testimony for the next generation?