Summary: Advice for Christians in stressful fearful times
GOD WILL PAVE THE WAY
READ JOSHUA 3:1-17
I. THE SITUATION
Joshua and the Israelites find themselves in an interesting situation. They had just come out of a set of circumstances where their old leader had died; Moses was gone. Now, they have seen the Lord work and He has chosen Joshua to be their new leader. He will lead them into the Promised Land. Chapter 3 focuses on the people of Israel at the time right before they cross over into Canaan.
The people of Israel were waiting to enter into a new land. They had no idea what was in store for them. The feelings of the people were no doubt running high:
· There was much anticipation among the people. They would finally enter and grab hold of the promise given to Abraham; something their fathers and mothers were not able to do… did not have the faith to do. You could feel the excitement running through the camp of Israel.
· You would also be able to sense some fear. They had never been this way before. What was across the Jordan River was the unknown and the unknown always invokes fear. Yet, Canaan wasn’t totally unknown. The spies had brought back a report about Jericho and they knew that the armies of Israel would not be well received. It was scary.
· Impatience also would have come into play. Now that the people were there and camped on the other side of the Jordan… there may have been the desire just to rush in and take what they could. Israel entering the Promised Land had been a long process and now it was here!
This was the situation the people of God found themselves in. It was an emotionally stressful uncertain fearful time.
II. THE COMPLICATION
The situation is more complicated than we realize. None of these people had ever fought in a battle. The soldiers that were to fight for the land God promised them were untested. They also were following a new leader whom they did not trust. I say this because Joshua too was untested.
How would he react under pressure? All Israel knew how Moses would react and that God was with him, but what about Joshua? The situation and the complications are this: It is an unknown emotionally stressful situation with an untested leader.
Have you every faced an emotionally stressful situation in your life?
· Job issues: overbearing boss, loss of a job, change of jobs and career
· National issues: foreign policy, health care for seniors, taxes
· Vehicle Issues: Car accident, breakdowns, need to buy a new one
· Health issues: sickness, unknown ailment, known ailment and treatment
· Money issues: big bills, unexpected expenses
All of these issues and more create a stressful situation where many times the outcome is unknown. Fear can grip us. Worry can grip us. Stress can become a way of life.
ILLUSTRATION… From Stress/Unstress by Keith W. Wehnert, 1981, Augsburg
Symptoms of Stress Overload
1. Decision-making becomes difficult (both major and minor kinds).
2. Excessive daydreaming or fantasizing about “getting away from it all.”
3. Increased use of cigarettes and/or alcohol.
4. Increased use of tranquilizers and “uppers.”
5. Thoughts trail off while speaking or writing.
6. Excessive worrying about all things.
7. Sudden outbursts of temper and hostility.
8. Paranoid ideas and mistrust of friends and family.
9. Forgetfulness for appointments, deadlines, dates.
10. Frequent spells of brooding and feeling of inadequacy.
11. Reversals in usual behavior.
ILLUSTRATION… Trip to New York for my sister (p)
1. Moving is always a stressful time
2. Details of the Move: No apartment, specifics in NYC, car, where is everything
What will the people of Israel do? How will they react in this situation? When we discover this, we will know how to react to these situations in our own lives.
III. THE RESOLUTION
1) They Followed Directions- The people of Israel did not go their own way into the Promised Land, but followed the directions that were given to them. They were told to follow the Ark of the Covenant and the priests into the river and to the other side of the Jordan. Strange directions, but amazing results. They followed the directions and the people of Israel crossed the river on dry ground.
I encourage you this morning, when you are faced with a stressful unknown situation, follow your directions. Where are your directions you ask? [have everyone hold up a bible]
2) They Followed God- The people of Israel followed after God. They did not run ahead of the Ark, but followed it until the time they were to move ahead and cross. Joshua Chapter 1 commanded Joshua to obey God and not to turn to the right or to the left. Many times directions will come to us through prayer and we must obey and follow God, not turning to the right or to the left.
ILLUSTRATION… Read the hymn “God leads us along”
The people of Israel crossed on dry ground and entered the land: God paved the way.