Summary: New Year’s sermon focusing on facing and having victory over the trials of life.


JOSHUA 3:1-5, 14-17

"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go . . . " Are you familiar with that little song? I remember singing it fervently on our trips from California to Texas, when I was but a wee little lad (by the way, if you do remember the song, tell me the rest of the words, I’m tired of la-la-ing my way through). The song represented adventures, finding new routes to a familiar place, games of "I-spy" and license plates, and the promise of reunion with ones we loved. I’m not certain how many rivers we crossed or how many acres of woods we traversed, but the trip was always one filled with expectation.

Crossovers are not always so. Sometimes crossing rivers can be scary. Fog rolls in and you can’t quite see the car ahead of you. Wooden bridges creak under the weight of your vehicle. Storms hit and you feel like the heavy rain will carry you over the edge. No, not all crossovers are fun.

Yet, life is full of crossovers. Events and happenings that some people call "peak" experiences. Some of those crossovers loomed so important to us once, and seem so trivial now. Do I take art or band for my elective? Should I grow long sideburns, or long hair? Do I want to wear this coat or that blazer? Some of those crossovers were, in fact important in our lives. Do I go to college? Should I ask her to marry me? Do we want children? Where will we live? Some of the crossovers are happy events. Imagine me, a father! Some are filled with sorrow, tears. I never got to say goodbye! Life is full of cross over times. And the common denominator of them all is that they reflect something new for us, a bit of uncertainty. To some degree, they are, for most of us, the only hint of adventure we find in our lives. Oh, one other common denominator — they each represent rivers which must be crossed. Try as we might, we cannot sit on the bank of life. We must cross the rivers of new experiences as we come to them. The only alternative is to stagnate, to die. As we face a new year, we enter into another crossover time. Will we find 2008 to be filled with joy or sorrow? — more likely it will be a mixture of both. Will we face this crossover time with confidence in our Lord, or full of fear?

Israel had come to the time of decision. After forty years of frustrated wanderings, they now stood at the bank of the Promised Land. And what did they see? A flooded out river! Normally, the Jordan River is easy to cross. But this was in harvest time, somewhere around April. This was the time of the spring melting of snow off of Mount Hermon. This was the time of the annual flood. Between Israel and the Promised Land was an insurmountable barrier — they could not make it across. But, you know, they did! The children of Israel began a new life by crossing the Jordan into the promised land.

We have crossover times in front of us as well. Not only do we have various personal "rivers" to ford, as the people of God, we have a river to cross. You see, I believe that for too long, we, too, have wandered in the wilderness. God wants us to cross over into the promised land of abundant living in Christ. How do we face the uncertainty of the crossover times of life? How do we cross over when the rivers of trial and tragedy, rejection and pain, even the river of commitment all loom so large ahead of us? How do we cross over into triumphant living? Listen to our text this morning, and discover with me the "secrets" to crossing over our Jordans.

I. To cross over, we need faith centered on the Lord.

A. The people of Israel were ordered to follow the ark of the covenant.

B. The ark may symbolize the presence of God but Jesus is the very presence of God among humanity.

C. If we are to make it across the rivers of life, we need to be intimately related to him.

II. To cross over, we need dedication.

A. The Israelites were called upon to consecrate themselves before the Lord.

B. God wants committed followers

C. Through that commitment, we find the strength to cross over our Jordans.

III. To cross over, we need action.

A. A moment in time came when the Israelites had to act on their faith.

B. We find it easy to speak of Jesus, commitment, faith — while we are here, safe in our sanctuary.

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