Summary: What it takes to risk that next step towards the significant life.
Last week, the banner headline of the newspapers was “Stocks plunge worldwide.” Yet, some of us still risked buying stocks on that day even if the world market is down. Because of that, you even cashed in on the slump. This morning, I would ask you to take an even greater risk that would pay an even greater dividend… the risk of faith... the step of obedience. Today, we will look into what it takes to risk that next step towards the significant life. Let us talk about “Crossover!”
Are you at a crossroad of your life where you know what God wants you to do yet you are afraid to obey? Is God asking you to make a decision yet you are wavering? Or, you already decided and you are excited to take a step of faith. If you are, then I believe this message is for you! Let us open our Bibles to Joshua chapters 3 and 4. We will glean our lessons from their miraculous crossing through the Jordan River.
Joshua and the nation of Israel were poised to attack the Promised Land. They waited for this moment for 40 years already. For three days, they were camped near the edge of the Jordan River. Their leaders gave them specific instructions to wait for the Ark of Covenant before moving out. Then, Joshua ordered them: “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  This brings me to our first point: CONSECRATE yourselves.
Let’s do a word study on “consecrate.” Forty years before, when Israel left Egypt, God commanded Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal.” Note the words “Consecrate” and “belongs to me”. To be consecrated then means to be set apart for a person or a purpose.
Before God gave the 10 commandments, He told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” Here the idea is not just commitment but also cleansing. There are times we ask God what His will is, like the choice of a mate or career. But He doesn’t answer our prayers because we have no intention of obeying it. If we like His will, if it is to our advantage, we might obey. But if we don’t like it, if we feel it’s hard, we won’t follow. Even before we ask for His will, let us commit ourselves to obey. There are times we can’t obey His will because we have some sin issues. We want to obey but we are not prepared to obey. Is there a sin or a relationship that we need to deal with so we can be ready to obey the Lord? For the Lord is looking for a clean vessel, not a golden one. 2 Timothy 2:21-22 says, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.” So, let us cleanse ourselves from sin and commit ourselves to obey so we can take the step of faith.
Joshua commanded the people to wait for the Ark of the Covenant because, “Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” The Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of the Lord Himself. Moses prayed to the Lord, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” So, when we take our step of obedience, let us RELY on the Lord. Joshua told them that God assured them of His presence. “By this [the miraculous cross-over] you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the [inhabitants of the land].”
So, we must trust God for His wisdom and strength in every decision that we make and every action that we take. The Lord should have the first word, the last word and every word in between. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.”
Remember that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament to prepare the people led by Joshua to conquer the land. They need to learn from the mistakes of their parents who were denied entry to the Promised Land. This generation read the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus. Many of them witnessed that event when they were still young. The Lord assured 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.” As they crossed the Jordan River, they recalled also the time when they crossed the Red Sea. Thus, “That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses.” There are times we worry about what people would think or say when we take steps of obedience. However, the Lord assures us that He will take care of that. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people will always like what we said or did. But, if we would not be proud when we succeed, then we should not be ashamed if ever we fail. We have to remember that it is the Lord we are pleasing, not men.