Joshua 3:1-17 (Part 1) – Thirty Minutes of Wonderful vs. A Lifetime of Nothing Special

Posted: May 21, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 3:1-17 (Part 1 of 4)

The Israelites Cross the Jordan

One of the famous lines from the movie, Steel Magnolias, was during the scene where M’Lynne and her diabetic daughter, Shelby, are discussing her previously unannounced pregnancy. M’Lynne is so angry at her daughter for getting pregnant because of the fact that pregnancy and child birth could likely kill Shelby. Because of their mother-daughter relationship where mom had always found some kind of fault in everything Shelby did, this discussion became a monumental watershed moment in their relationship. Once of the classic lines of the move and of this particular scene in it was where Shelby says,


Mama, I don’t know why you have to make everything so difficult. I look at having a baby as the opportunity of a lifetime. Sure there may be risk involved, but that’s true for anybody. But you get through it and life goes on. And when it’s all said and done there will be a little piece of immortality with Jackson’s good looks and my sense of style, I hope. Please, please I need your support. I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.


Last week, one of the things that came out of our staff development meeting was the idea of what are the unconfessed sins of us collectively and individually as a church that is holding back God from expressing his full glory through our local church. God has a specific mission for each of the churches that God allows to be created. Each one has its purpose and mission in God’s redemptive plan. Each church is supposed to fulfill its mission in the spectrum of missions that God has for each in His grand plan for redeeming the world through His Son. There is a mission for each church. There is no church that is still in existence that does not still have its unique mission from God. The question is that have we settled for mediocrity because of collective unconfessed sins. Have we settled for a lifetime of nothing special rather than God’s design for us for our “wonderful”? Have we settled because we do not want things to change from the mediocrity that we are wallowing in?


Our senior pastor challenged us as leaders to examine ourselves for the things in our lives that are holding back God’s glory from being fully expressed through our church. What is it that is holding back the 30 minutes of wonderful in exchange for the lifetime of nothing special in our church. Is it us? Is it me? We must examine ourselves for unconfessed sin. Do we have pride that is preventing us from working together or from submitting to leadership? Are any of us so convinced that we have the corner on the market of this “being a Christian” thing that we no longer need instruction from our leaders? Do any of us have trouble submitting to leadership because we think we know better than they? Do we have a sin in our lives that would destroy our church if it came out under the pressure cooker of moving our church to the next level? Do any of us want to be carbon copies of other leaders? Do we simply try to do what’s been proven elsewhere rather than listening to what God says is the specific thing that He wants from our church that is unique, untested and never done before? Do any of us not trust God enough to find our own voice, to find that unique mission of our church? Do we have sins in our closet that prevent God’s glory from being fully expressed through our church? Remember the sin of Achan that caused the Israelites to lose the Battle of Ai that we will see when we get to Joshua 7. We must confess our sins and repent of them so that God can express His full glory through us. What is holding you back from experiencing the glory of God? What is it that you have exchanged God’s glory for a lifetime of nothing special?


That was the thing that I noticed here this morning in the first of four blogs on Joshua 3. That thing being how the people sought to purify themselves before battle and how that was similar to the guts of our staff development meeting this past week. What is it about us collectively and individually that is holding us back from the victory that God has set in front of us? We must examine ourselves and then repent of our sins and then commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes, whatever sacrifices that are needed, whatever risks need to be taken so that God’s glory is shown through in that specific mission that he has for our church. Let’s read this chapter of Joshua together now:


3 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.”


5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”


6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.


7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”


9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”


14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.


In this passage, we see that, before entering the Promised Land, the Israelites were to perform a purification ceremony. God often required such acts such as before offering a sacrifice or before witnessing a great miracle of God. His Law showed the Israelites could become unclean in many ways – eating certain foods, giving birth, dealing with disease, touching a dead body. God used these various outward signs of uncleanness to illustrate a person’s uncleanness that comes as a result of sin. The purification ceremony pictured the importance of approaching God with a pure heart, a focused heart, having confessed our sins, and concentrating on giving God His glory and our total attention.


Are you willing to take the time to seek to purify yourself before God? I am not talking about some ritual but a soul searching? Like those videos you see of football players going through their pregame locker room processes of putting on their uniforms before a big game. You see them thinking and visualizing and praying about the battle in which they are about to partake. They are laser focused on their part of the game plan. They are in deep thought and often don’t even talk to each other. Each thinking on the big game ahead and their part in it.


May we have that same laser focus when it comes to playing our role at church? God has a mission for our church. God has a victory for our church in His grand redemptive plan for the Lyman-Duncan-Wellford area, SC. We have a specific mission. God has a game plan for us. However, we must be focused in on God’s mission. In order to be laser focused on his mission, we must examine our weaknesses and sins that can be exploited by the enemy in the heat of battle. What are the sins that I am protecting that can be exploited by Satan that will prevent or hinder the full glory of God from being expressed through our local church. What sin am I not confessing before the Lord? What sin are you not confessing before the Lord? We need to purify ourselves. We need to identify our sins that we think are not sins such as pride and arrogance. We need to identify the lusts of our lives that we are protecting and hiding and confess them before the Lord so that He will not withdraw His glory from our house of the Lord. Or are you willing to settle for mediocrity. Are you happier with things the way they are? Are you willing to settle for a lifetime of nothing special so that you or I can keep our sins that we want to keep? What is it that is making us into a lifetime of nothing special. Don’t you want God’s glory to be fully shown through you and I and the church we call home?


Let us examine ourselves. Let us confess our sins. Let us live for God and not a life where we are protecting our pet sins. Let us live the “wonderful” that God has for you and for me and for our church. Let us not settle for a lifetime of nothing special just so that we can exist. Let us be willing to sacrifice it all for the Lord by being fully purified, fully confessing, people that are willing to do whatever God directs us to do to be in that wonderful place (aligned with God’s will) rather than a lifetime of mediocrity of not fully seeing what happens when God has a people that are sold out for Him. Thirty minutes of wonderful vs. a lifetime of nothing special?


Amen and Amen.

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