Summary: A day of decision - do we stay short of God’s blessing or do we cross the river?
(adapted from a message by Bill Burnett)
TEXT: JOSHUA 3:1-17
TITLE: “STEP INTO THE WATER…”
OPEN: A. Several families went to spend an afternoon at the river. Some of the adults decided to walk out
to an island in the middle of the river. A five-year-old girl decided she wanted to go, too. Her
father returned to shore and took her hand. She stepped into the water but held on tightly to a
branch on the shore. She was afraid of the river but wanted to go where her father was going.
He told her, “You have to let go of the branch if you want to come with me.” She said, “I’m
afraid that I’ll sink” Her father replied, “I’ve got your hand so you won’t sink. If you do, I’ll lift
you up.” Fearfully, she let go of the branch.
Her father knew the water wasn’t very deep at this point of the river and he guided her feet to
each rock along the way. When she started, she wasn’t very confident. But as her father guided
her feet to each rock, she gained confidence with each step. She was eventually eager to reach for
each stone and it didn’t take long until they were at the island in the middle of the river.
1. That’s how God deal with each of us
--He tells us what He wants us to do and then guides each step. Eventually, we gain confidence
in God’s leadership
2. Ps. 37:24-25 – If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble,
he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
B. Following the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and the death of Moses, the children of
Israel have a new leader
1. His name is Joshua and he’s a mighty man of God
2. God has informed Joshua that the Israelites will soon be crossing the Jordan River to claim the
inheritance that God had promised hundreds of years before.
3. Joshua sends two spies into Jericho.
a. The ruler of the city is hunting for them and a prostitute named Rahab takes the spies into her
house and hides them
b. After she convinces the king’s messenger that the spies have already left, she allows them to
spend the night and gets them safely out of the city
c. When they leave, she tells them that everyone in Jericho is frightened of them because of the
might of their God
d. They return and report to Joshua
4. We pick up the story this morning in Joshua Chapt. 3
--The Israelites were either going to cross the river or stay stuck on the other side just short of
God’s promised blessings
C. Today we stand at the juncture of our own Jordan River
1. The Jordan is a symbol
--It’s the place where you either cross over or settle for being just short of where God wants you
2. We stand poised today to make a choice
a. Following the message, you’re going to hear a presentation from the board concerning the
process of funding a youth minister
b. As you sit and listen to how we can cross our Jordan, be asking God what you can personally
do to help in this important task
--first thing to do before crossing:
I. FOCUS YOUR EYES ON GOD
--Josh. 3:1-3 – Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan,
where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 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. 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.”
A. Notice the Israelites had to wait at Shittim for three extra days
1. Sometimes we have to wait on God
a. We think things are ready to move but we’ve figured things according to our timing and not God’s
b. God is the Creator of time
1). He doesn’t measure time the way we do
2). In fact, time is not a limiting factor to God
--2 Pet. 3:8 – But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a
thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
2. The promise to Abraham concerning the Promised Land had been made over 500 years before this
point in time
a. The Israelites had marching around in the wilderness for 40 years