Summary: This sermon describes the steps of faith required to receive God’s gifts.
Cross The River
God has a gift for each of us. For some the gift is the gift of salvation. For some the gift is peace of mind. For some the gift is the ability to forgive another person. For some the gift is guidance about a decision.
In our text we find that God’s people, the Israelites, were preparing to cross the Jordan River and enter the promised land. This is the special land God had promised them. This land is representative of the special gifts God wants to give His people regardless of the time, situation or circumstances. Whenever God desires to give people his blessed gifts it requires adjustments on their part.
Regardless of your need or the gift the steps are the same. What are they? We can learn the proper response to God’s gift by examining this text. We find four steps to follow in this text.
Step one- Recognize and accept the Gift of God.
Ill- In the movie Sergeant York, which details the life of the famous hero of World War I, Alvin York is given a farm by the State of Tennessee. Gracie, Alvin’s girl friend, had the job of convincing Alvin that the gift was real. It was hard for Alvin to comprehend that he was given such a gracious gift.
Even so, you and I must realize that we are special and that God has a gift for us. As a part of recognizing and accepting God’s gift is realizing that God did not create us to live in a desert. In Joshua 3 (our text) the Israelites had just overcome 40 years of Wilderness Wandering. God did not create them to live in a wilderness. He created them to live in a promised land. Regardless of your situation or your pain. You must come to realize that God did not create you to live in a waste-land.
Ill- This is the story of man’s struggle from the beginning of time. Adam and Eve were created to live in a sinless garden. It was God’s gift. However, they did not recognize and accept God’s gift. Instead, they chose to live under the influence of sin.
Ill- While preparing this message there was an article in our local newspaper about the spiritual awakening taking place in Eastern Kentucky. Amidst severe economic circumstances and trials many people turned to drugs and alcohol to relieve their pain. However, that relief was an illusion and now many are turning to Christ. The paper interviewed one individual who shared his story. He indicated there came a time, after being released from prison when he hit the bottom. As an ex-con he had no where to turn. This man indicated he spent a cold Kentucky night in a portable toilet after being released from prison. During that time he realized that God did not purpose him to live in that condition. God never created anyone to live in a waste land.
Step two- Make sure God is first in your life.
Notice the context of this passage. Chapter 2 closes with the two spies reporting their findings. They report that the people in the land of Canaan were afraid of them. They gave a positive and encouraging report that God was going to give them the land of Promise. The Israelite people must have been pumped. When you get a group of people pumped and motivated you would tend to think, this is the time to move forward. There is an old saying “Strike while the iron is hot.” That would seem to have applied to this situation. That did not happen. The Bible tells us the Israelites arrived at the Jordan River only to spend 3 days camping. The people were pumped. The promise was given. However, God told them to wait. What was God teaching them? What was God trying to accomplish? He was seeking to focus the people on Himself. He told the people, “When you see the priests carrying the Ark of God, follow them.” The ark represented the presence of the Lord. Thus, he was teaching them to put God first in their lives. They were not to do anything until God was at the forefront of what they were doing.
This is the essence of conversion. A person must be willing to turn from a self focused life and place Jesus at the center of his life. You must be willing to remove self from the throne of your heart and put Jesus in that position.
As believers mature in the Christian life they must go through a process of learning to put Christ first in every decision. Why is this important?
1. He knows the proper timing in all situations. He knows when it is time to cross the rivers of life!