Joshua 3:1-17 (Part 2) – It’s 7am…Do You Know Where Your Bible Is?

Posted: May 22, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 3:1-17 (Part 2 of 4)

The Israelites Cross the Jordan

As you may have noticed from my blogs over these past few years that I have a weight problem. I am 54 years old as of this writing (and getting older by the second) and I am about 30 pounds above my ideal weight for my height and body type. I live a fairly sedentary lifestyle because I work in an office. I work long hours at my job. I am in the process of pursuing my doctoral degree so that adds additional sedentary time to my lifestyle. And, I love food. Food. Glorious food! I have learned over the past few years since I recognized that I need to lose weight that any food that tastes good must be bad for you. I hate for salads to be the centerpiece of my meals. I don’t know what kale is and don’t want to eat it or drink it. I love French fries. I love burgers. I love ham. I love eggs. I love pizza. I love my favorite beer. I love Dr. Pepper. I love barbequed smothered chicken. I love gummy bears. I love Reese’s cups. I love Kit-Kat bars. I love Hershey’s Kisses. I love steak. I love shrimp. I love food that tastes good.


Over the past few years though I have recognized that my weight keeps drifting by markers that I thought I would never pass. Strangely enough, my excess weight is not an all over the body kind of thing. My arms and legs are in good shape. Strong and good shaped are arms and legs. It’s all concentrated in my torso. There are people that know me now (since we moved back to South Carolina 7 years ago) that only know me with a big belly. They just assume that this has always been the way that I am but they couldn’t be worse wrong. Just a decade ago I was a pretty thin dude. In my second marriage, I weighed only about 180 at a maximum. In the aftermath of that marriage ending, my weight dropped as low as 168 at one point. That was just 12-13 years ago. Just in the past 7 years I have put on 35 pounds. I guess that is what happens to you when you marry a girl that is actually good for your soul who happens to be a great cook. Living a settled life for once in my life and then having a wife who cooks the way Elena does. Add to that when you get into your mid-forties, your metabolism slows down drastically. When that happens, one should stop eating the way you did in your twenties. Back then, you could eat as much as you wanted of the favorite things you love to eat and not a thing would happen to your weight. Not so when you reach into your forties and fifties. The metabolism slows weigh down. Your lifestyle of office worker and little to no formal exercise regimens will catch up with you.


Now, I am fighting an uphill battle with my weight. Several problems are working against me. First, I love food. There is almost nothing better than a good meal. Second, the Christian faith is about meals when you think about it – developing relationships with people and telling them about Jesus…and it always most often happens over a meal. But the biggest reason that I have a problem losing weight is consistency of exercise. I go through phases with it. I will be consistent with an exercise routine for weeks at a time. But something will come up – a busy time at work where it requires more than my normal 50-60 hours per week, a busy time in my academic studies with deadlines, research, and papers, a busy time at church with responsibilities there, a busy time in my personal life with commitments and dinners and seeing my granddaughter. It is hard to be consistent about it. I also can find excuses for not exercising. There are some good ones. It’s cold outside. I will get back at it when spring gets here. It’s too hot outside. I will start getting up early and exercising. Man, I really want to sleep. Sleep is right up there with food for this 54 year old guy. So, early morning exercising is really not an option. I have done that before but man is it hard for me to get up at 4:15 or 4:30 in the morning. Lately, I have been exercising in the evenings right after I get home from work. It’s worked pretty good but only when we do not have commitments in our weeknight schedule. Lifting weights and stretching exercises some nights. Stair climbs on the steep steps to our front porch of our old mill house that we live in (that will kick your butt!). Walking around our neighborhood until my bad back seizes up on me (a bad back that I am sure is caused by my big ol’ front-loader that I call my belly). Even when I do exercise, all I do is maintain the weight that I am at and I do not see any progress and then add to it that exercising in the evenings can often cut me out of wanting to do things after my exercise. I have always been a sweater. No not the clothing type. I have always been a person that can soak a t-shirt with sweat doing any type of extended physical activity – even as teenager. I can sweat buckets easily. I am a sweater. So, when I work out, it’s a sweat orgy. I have to take a shower after exercising for an hour. So, there is no such thing as a quick workout. It’s workout and a shower. It’s a time commitment. Do I really want to get all nasty, sweaty tonight? Wouldn’t ya rather have some friends over to hang out?


I know that it is a combination of portion control at meals and being consistent in my exercise. You gotta have both. Food consumption control and regular exercise. Only with this combination will I get rid of this weight. It is not that being plump is a bad thing in and of itself, but I just felt better emotionally, physically, and had greater confidence when I weighed less. I just felt better about myself at 180-190 lbs. than I do now. But it is going to take a physical discipline both in food consumption and exercise that so far I have not been able to stay committed to for any length of time. I will be committed for a few weeks. I will be committed sometimes for a few months. But it always comes to an end. They say (those experts that “they” are) we prioritize what we are committed to. What we place our highest importance on, we will find time to indulge that which is important us. We make time for what we want to do. We make time for what we love.


That was the thing that came to mind this morning was the dedication to God’s Word here by Joshua. Sure, they could have rushed into battle but they prepared by hearing God’s Word. Joshua made time for God’s Word:


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 just before crossing over into the Promised Land, Joshua gathered the people together to hear the words of the Lord. Their excitement undoubtedly was high. There was no doubt that they wanted to rush on, but Joshua made them stop and listen. We lived in a fast-paced age where we rush just to keep up. It is easy to get caught up in our daily tasks, becoming too busy for what God says is most important – listening to His words. Before making our schedules, we should make time to focus on what God wants from all your daily activities. Knowing what God has said before we rush into our day can help avoid foolish mistakes.


What does all this have to do with my opening illustration about my weight problem, my big belly problem? I think the illustration and the point of the blog this morning is this? We make time for what’s important to us.


I know that if it was really important to me to exercise I would make it a top priority to which everything, every other choice of evening activities would take a back seat to it. How committed am I really to losing weight? Am I really willing to count calories. Eat low cal foods. Avoid sugars. And and and work out my body through exercise! How committed am I about that? Or would I rather just complain and then do nothing about it. It took me 7 years to a decade to gain these extra 35 pounds. It is going to be a long-haul that will take a while to see results. It requires commitment not just desire.


What again does my weight loss problem have to do with Joshua 3? And how that translates into some biblical truth you can use? Well, it’s this. We can all sit around and complain about the lack of depth to our spiritual lives. We can wonder why our neighbor from church has a deeper relationship with God than we do. It comes down to commitment and discipline just like anything else. Those who have spiritual depth to them are the ones who prioritize God’s Word and make it a daily discipline to be in God’s Word. Those who are spiritually lean and fit are the ones that make Bible study a daily priority. Nothing will stop them from being in God’s Word regularly. They may miss a day or two here and there but 99% of their days have a daily Bible study in them – not just Bible reading but Bible study. Bible reading is easy but Bible study means that you meditate on God’s Word, you mull it over, you chew on it all day, you pray about it and ask God to reveal His truth to your daily life. That takes commitment.


I know parents who sacrifice everything to help their kids pursue their athletic dreams (or the parents athletic dreams through their kids) but their Bible is gathering dust on the bookshelf or on the coffee table. I know people who make a priority of reading the latest series of the fad book series that come around and go around, but there Bible is somewhere in the house – not sure where it really is. Can’t go to church today because it would make us late getting to the lake today. Can’t read my Bible because I need to binge watch the second half of the season of my favorite show. There are always excuses for deprioritizing what’s NOT important to us. But for us to have any spiritual depth to us, for us to have good spiritual health, for us to know Jesus more deeply, for us to know the character and power of God more intimately, for us to not being taken in by feel-good theology, we must exercise our Bibles. We must take time for God’s Word. We must work out our Bibles. We must have frayed edges or our Bible pages. We must have Bibles where the bindings are coming apart. We must make time for God’s Word.


Is there anything more important than deepening your relationship with God? It requires commitment. It requires dedication. It requires make it a priority above all others. Want to get spiritually fit? Make time for God’s Word, like Joshua. Make time for Bible study not just Bible reading. Make the Bible a priority above all other priorities.


Amen and Amen.

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