It’s Time for a Miracle
Dr. Marty Baker /Joshua 3 / August 3, 2019
You know that I like to start with something funny, so a couple of months ago, I challenged you to send me your funny stories. Several of you sent me this story.
Did you hear about the pastor that went out each Saturday to visit his church members? At one house, it was obvious that someone was home, but nobody came to the door even though the preacher knocked several times. Finally, the preacher took out his card, wrote out Revelation 3:20 on the back of it, and stuck it in the door:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me.
The next day, the card turned up in the collection plate.
Added to it was this cryptic message, 'Genesis 3:10'
I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Today, we are going to start a brand new series called Knock, Knock. It’s only appropriate that we start off with some classic Knock, Knock Jokes. You have to play along with me.
Knock, Knock. Who’s there?
Knock Knock! Who's there? Goliath. Goliath who?
Go lieth down, you looketh tired!
Knock Knock. Who's There? Noah. Noah Who?
I Noah guy if you need an ark.
Knock, knock. Who's there? Doris. Doris who? Doris locked, that's why I'm knocking.
If you can do better, send me your best Knock Knock jokes or funny stories to email@example.com.
So the more serious people in the room are saying, “Marty, what’s the point?”
You know life is all about doors. We go in them and out of them. We open them and close them. Some of us have even been known to slam them!
In this series, we are going to see how God opens and closes doors to accomplish His will in our lives. I want you to see that there are God-opportunities knocking on your door right now. And together we are going to find and embrace those opportunities.
One of the major story lines in the Old Testament section of the Bible focuses on the journey of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. This is more than a history lesson because this is your story and it is my story. The message of the Bible is simple: You can find freedom.
Moses led these people, around two million of them, through the desert to the edge of their new land. The story of their deliverance featured several miracles … God-sized events that continue to marvel the greatest skeptics.
Early in the journey, some of them got their eyes off of God and began to grumble and complain. They wanted to go back to where they came from. Their lack of appreciation and over-all negative attitude brought the judgment of God on the people. As a result, God allowed them to wander in the desert for forty years before they were able to cross over into the Promised Land.
Today we are going to pick up on their story as the forty-year desert experience is up. They are ready to cross over into the Promised Land.
At this point, Moses is dead and Joshua, his assistant, is in charge. It is his job to get them ready to meet with God. We pick up the story in Joshua 3.
1 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim’ and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.
2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp,
3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God,
What is the Ark of the Covenant? The ark is the sacred chest where the ancient Hebrews kept the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments
3 giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.
The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God. In other words, you are to follow God. When God moves, you should move.
Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.
I love this verse. This is the story of my life and your life. This is the story of faith. Could it be that today, God is calling you to place that you have never been? I believe so. I believe that God is calling you, me and this entire congregation to step out in faith.
A call to faith can be intimidating; it can be challenging; and yes, it can be scary. We have to learn to listen to his voice and be willing to step out in faith and follow Him. But, here’s what I know. Here is today’s big idea.
God calls us to places that we have never been so that we can learn what it means to trust Him.
When we trust Him, the way that we are to go will be made clear.
Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it."
Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
I believe that every one of us can find freedom by embracing three principles from this passage.
1. Prepare yourself. Sometimes God has to work on you before he works on a solution.
Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
In other words, get ready; prepare yourselves for what God has in store.
God has already prepared a way. Now he is preparing you.
Joshua told the Children of Israel, “Consecrate yourselves”. Consecrate means to give entirely, to dedicate yourself. Practically speaking, I see consecration as removing anything from your life that may offend the heart of God.
I like to say it this way, “Get the junk out of your life.” That comes from this idea of consecration.
Is there anything in your life that offends the heart of the Lord?
Joshua was saying, “I want you to get serious. I want you to prepare yourself. God is going to show up and do amazing things among you.”
So many times we say we want God to move in our lives, but our actions say otherwise. We want God to move, but we never prepare ourselves for the move of God.
Consecrate means to give entirely, to dedicate yourself.
(Real Examples of People who have consecrated themselves)
Joshua says, “If you will consecrate yourself, God will do amazing things among you.” Let’s be practical. When you think about the words “amazing things” … what does that look like? What do you need God to do in your life?
I believe that God wants to move in your life. In fact, his dream for your life and your church is so much bigger than we imagine.
I believe that you have potential. When I was a teenager, we had a championship high school band…eight state championships in a row, three national championships. The director, Mr. Scott, was like a Paris Island drill instructor. You could not run a program today like he did back then. We are too soft. He was tough, but he was the most loved and revered man in the community.
I will never forget one day we were at practice I did not hit the line. You’ve got to hit the line. He stopped the show and came running towards me screaming, “If you don’t hit that line, the lights of the funeral home will be on for you.” I know that you don’t understand that, but I did.
In Abbeville, they only turned the lights of the funeral home on when someone died and everyone knew that. I cannot count the times that our family would drive by the funeral home and see the lights on and my dad would say, “I wonder who is dead.”
Mr. Scott was saying, “If you don’t hit that line, the lights are going to be turned on for you.” Mr. Scott said a lot of things, but here’s one thing that I remember, “Potential is not worth a dime unless you do something with it.”
Today, I am standing in front of a congregation that has great potential, but potential is not worth a dime unless you do something with it.
What are you going to do? It’s time to get ready. God wants us to dedicate ourselves to His purposes. I believe that God will do amazing things, but He is looking for a people who are spiritually prepared. He is looking for a group that is ready for His appearing.
Joshua said, “Get ready for God is going to do something great.”
The Children of Israel had to do something. They had to step out in faith. They had to face their fears. If you are going to reach your greatest potential, then you have to fight your greatest fears. … To reach your greatest potential you’ll have to fight your greatest fears. They had to take action.
2. Take a step. God will use your action to turn opportunity into reality.
(Take action. Be willing to step out into new areas.)
It requires action. It takes more than just preparation; ultimately it takes putting one foot in front of the other and taking a first step.
But there was a problem here, a barrier. The Promised Land was on the other side of the Jordan River. There are two million people that need to cross over, but they don’t have a bridge, they don’t have a ferry, they don’t have a way across.
When you study Joshua, you will see how God gave the people a role to play in the amazing things He had promised. God said, “Pick up the Ark of the Covenant.”
6 Joshua said to the priests, "Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people." So they took it up and went ahead of them.
7 And the LORD said to 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.
8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: 'When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river.' "
Symbolically, picking up the Ark is like picking up the promises and the presence and the commands of God and placing those promises and commands on your shoulders, knowing that God is going with you. It's about trusting God. It’s about taking action. It’s about getting your feet wet. “Go stand in the river.”
Today, it’s time for you to get your feet wet. God does not save a person just for them to sit on the sidelines watching everyone else get in the river.
There are too many people here at the Creek that are sideliners. Some of you have never made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. You are just watching from the bank of the river.
Today is the day to say “Yes to God.” Today is the day for you to get your feet wet.
There are too many people here at the Creek that come and enjoy the show, but never engage in what God is doing here. You are just sitting here waiting for Jesus to come. It’s time to get your feet wet. You have been given great gifts and talents. You have been called to make a difference.
What are you doing with what you have been given? It’s time to get ready. It’s time to take action. It’s time to get your feet wet.
The priests carried the ark to the river. They stepped into the water and they trusted God for a miracle.
So we’ve consecrated, or prepared, ourselves. We’ve made our move and done what we can do. Now it’s time to…
3. Trust God. He is working in your life even when you do not see it.
As soon as the priests took those first steps into the Jordan River, instantly the flow of the water stops. Isn’t it interesting that the miracle did not happen until they stepped into the water?
God could have stopped the water all by Himself but He wanted His followers to get involved so that they could experience the thrill of seeing God work through them.
God wants to do miracles through you. I know for some of you that sounds like religious jargon. But I really believe that God releases supernatural power through people who trust Him. In this room today, there are scores of people who have seen miracles take place in their lives or the lives of their family and friends.
The greatest miracle that I have ever seen is the miracle of a person’s sins being forgiven. They don’t have to carry around the guilt and shame of their past. They are free to love. They are free to live.
Look at what happened when the Children of Israel stepped into the Jordan River.
15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge,
16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
Now here you need to read the text carefully and you need to know a little bit of geography and some simple physics. The town of Adam is about 20 miles upstream from where the priests are standing. The water in the Jordan River is flowing at maybe about 5 miles per hour. This is like a math word problem: Water leaves Adam traveling south at 5 miles per hour. How long before the water reaches the priests 20 miles downstream?
Do you get the picture? The instant the priests' feet touch the water God performs a miracle. But the miracle is 20 miles upstream. To their eyes nothing happens. In fact, it is going to be hours before there is any evidence that God is at work.
These guys stepped out in faith, but they did not see any visible change. They've got to be thinking, Joshua, this just isn't working. We've stepped out in faith and as you can plainly see these amazing things God promised just aren't happening. We’re just standing here with wet feet!
But imagine how it must have felt after hours of patiently waiting, standing there in the middle of the Jordan River, as the water began to recede until finally they were standing on dry ground.
You see the good news is that when we step out in faith, and maybe things still look hopeless, and it looks like the promises of God aren't being fulfilled, that somewhere upstream, or maybe just out of sight around the corner, God is already at work. God has already performed a miracle, and you are about to see the results.
And little by little, as we continue to step out in obedience, God begins to reveal the miracles and the amazing tomorrows that He has in store for our lives.
So here is the point I want us to remember. God is calling us to prepare ourselves because He wants to do amazing things among us.
This miracle of the parting of the Jordan River started when the Children of Israel stepped out into the water. They were a part of a miracle that God performed.
God wants you and me to be part of a miracle that he is in the process of performing.
When Joshua led the Children of Israel through the Jordan River, it was as if God was saying: I don’t want you to only see a miracle; I want you to be a part of a miracle.
God does not only want you to see a miracle, He wants you to be a part of a miracle.
When they stepped into the water, the river parted, the miracle happened. God wants you to be a part of a miracle here at Stevens Creek Church.
God is giving us an opportunity to be a part of what He is doing in this community. I believe that we create the future through prayer.
Today, we are beginning 21 Days of Prayer. For twenty-one days, are going to call on the name of the Lord, we are going to repent, we are going to get rid of the junk in our lives and we are going to listen to the Lord’s promptings.
So how are we going to do this? Beginning tomorrow, the church will be open at 6:00 AM for individual prayers. You can come and go as you need too.
At 7:00 AM, we will gather for a group focus. We will have worship. There will be a devotional and then a time of focused prayer. If it is does not work with your schedule, then carve out a time during the day that works for you. Find a private place where you can connect with God.
Some find it in the early hours of the morning; others find it late at night. Carve out time, find a place and draw near to God.
Each Saturday during the 21 Days of Prayer, we will be gathering for prayer at 9:00 AM. Some of you cannot make it during the week, but you can on Saturday. Be here at 9:00 AM.
I believe that God will honor you and bless you during this time. This twenty-one day emphasis will not change God’s heart, but it will change ours.
Today under your seat there is a prayer guide. There are two cards with it. One says:
Seven Targets of God’s Blessing.
I want you to write down the names of seven people that you want God to bless during this 21 Day period. Let’s join together and ask God to save and deliver people who have lost their way.
In addition to the seven targets, we have dedicated these glass walls in this auditorium as prayer walls. If you have a spiritual concern for someone, come forward pray for them and write their name on the glass. We believe that the future belongs to people who pray.
We want Stevens Creek Church to be known in this community not only for the music that we sing and the messages that we share, but for the prayers that we pray.
There’s another card that says Today I am Praying For. This is a card where we want you to write your prayer need or needs and bring it to the front so we can join with you. If you put that on the stage today, I can promise you that our team will pray for it this week. We’ll give you time to write that in just a minute.
What do you need from God today? Think about that.
Let’s start with the most important thing. Have you made Jesus the leader and the Lord of your life? Today is your day.
Your life with Christ begins with answering his call, opening the door. You have an opportunity to have your past forgiven, to receive strength for today and confidence for tomorrow.
I am asking you to step in the water.
There are some of you here that need to consecrate yourself. Get the junk out of your life. It’s holding you back from being the person that you are created to be. You have been saved, but today, it’s time to be sanctified. Consecrate yourself. Pray for God to remove anything that is holding you back from becoming the person you are meant to be.
Some of you feel like you are standing looking at an opportunity that has become an obstacle. You need God to break the barrier. Today … and over the next 21 days, we are going to pray that God answers your prayer and opens the door for you.
Are you ready to pray?