Sometimes people ask me, “What is the hardest part of preparing a sermon?” My reply is a bit irreverent – “Getting my behind into my desk chair!” As with so many things, big and small, the first step is usually the most difficult. There is a moment when we must commit ourselves, putting our minds and hands to the task.
When we contemplate starting something new – we often see a wall of impossibilities, don’t we? However, when we begin, when we tackle the task, there are resources, there is determination, and somehow it gets done.
The book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s possession of the Promised Land. In chapter 3 they are camped on the plains, ready to go. But, there is a problem. Between Canaan and their camp the Jordan River was a barrier. To complicate matters, at the time of their contemplated crossing it was ‘at flood stage.‘
Joshua, who was proven in his faith told the people – “Think of it! The Ark of the Covenant, which belongs to the Lord of the whole earth, will lead you across the Jordan River! Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. The priests will be carrying the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. When their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will pile up there in one heap.” (Joshua 3:11-13, NLT) How many of them heard him and silently said, “I’ll believe that when I see it!”?
40 years earlier their parents, when faced with the difficulties of possessing the Promised Land, had refused God’s invitation. Their faithlessness caused them to die as wanderers in the wilderness. Joshua was a survivor of that generation. The promise is theirs to own, but, they will have to make a choice of faith unlike their fearful fathers. He pressed them to consecrate themselves, to follow the Lord, and to ‘step into the river.” And, when they did the river stopped flowing! Joshua summarizes the occasion saying, “This was so that everybody on earth would recognize how strong God’s rescuing hand is and so that you would hold God in solemn reverence always.” (Joshua 4:24, The Message)
Note this! The river stopped flowing ONLY “when their feet touched the water.” They had to take that first step in faith before the miracle happened!
There is a powerful life lesson here for us. When God says, “Go,” and it appears that there is no way, it’s time to step into the water! Faith will follow the Presence of the Lord, just as the people of Israel followed the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan River and committed themselves to the possession of God’s promise. Obedience will open a way forward – from where we are into a new and wonderful place of His purposes.
What seemingly insurmountable situation hinders your spiritual progress today?
Is God inviting you to a new ministry, to a new season of growth, to discovery of His promise and Presence in a deeper way?
Are you willing to follow in faith and obedience, one step at a time?
That first step ‘into the river’ is the toughest one, but if you are led by Him, He will make a way.
This word from the Word is a song for the tested, one that anticipates the fulfilment of His promises. As you read these ancient, inspired words, I pray that the Holy Spirit will make them alive and compelling to you.
“O Israel, the Lord who created you says:
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
(Isaiah 43:1-7, NLT)
Got Any Rivers
(Selah encourages our faith with their beautiful arrangement)
Got any rivers
You think are uncrossable
Got any mountains
You can’t tunnel through
God specializes in
Things tho’t impossible
He does the things
Others cannot do
Oscar C. Eliason © 1945
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