Summary: Israel is now on the verge of victory after 40 years of wandering in the desert. But they must act in order to activate God’s promises.
Taking the First Step
Rev. Brian Bill
A husband and wife were having problems remembering things, so they decided to go to the doctor. The doctor encouraged them to begin writing things down to see if that would help their memory. Later that night while watching TV, the husband got up from his chair and started toward the kitchen. His wife asked, “Where are you going?” “I’m going to the kitchen to get some ice cream,” he answered. She asked, “Will you get me a bowl while you’re there?” The husband replied, “Sure.” The wife, remembering what the doctor had said, asked, “Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?” The husband rolled his eyes and said, “No, I can remember that.” “Well, I would also like some strawberries on top. You had better write that down because I know you’ll forget.” “No, I won’t forget,” he assured her. “OK, I also want some whipped cream on top. I know you’ll forget so you better write it down.” The husband was obviously irritated, but he managed to say rather nicely, “I don’t need to write that down. I can remember it.” About 20 minutes later, he returned and handed her a plate of bacon and eggs. She stared at it for a moment and then said, “I knew you couldn’t remember…You forgot my toast!” (Source: Paul Decker, www.sermoncentral.com).
The older I get the harder it is to remember things and that’s why I have to write almost everything down. God knew that we’d all have trouble remembering and so He made sure to record His revelation in a book we call the Bible. On this first Sunday in 2007 we’re beginning a twelve-part series called “Old Testament Journey II.” If you were here a year ago, you’ll recall that we spent nine weeks studying the first five books of the Bible (www.pontiacbible.org). We received a lot of positive feedback from this series but almost everyone mentioned that they wished we would have taken more time. While we won’t be going verse-by-verse we are going to go a bit slower this time. In order to get the most out of this study, I encourage you to plug into a small group. Each group will be studying material written by Pastor Dick that is designed to help us apply during the week what we learn together on Sundays. A new group is starting tomorrow morning for those who work nights or who can’t attend an evening study.
Deuteronomy ends with the nation of Israel still wandering in the wilderness, with the word “journeyed” used almost 90 times in the Book of Numbers. The Book of Joshua begins a new section in the Old Testament called the 12 historical books. This period covers approximately 1,000 years. As we come to the Book of Joshua, a new generation stands on the banks of the Jordan wondering if they have the faith to do what their parents did not. We begin to see a new word used meaning “crossover,” which refers to a decisive moment in the history of Israel. This group of some two million people is poised to claim the promises of God but probably also frightened that they will commit the same sin as their parents, who died because of their disobedience. They are in a tough spot because their leader Moses is now dead. But they’re on the verge of victory with only the Jordan River standing between them and the land “flowing with milk and honey.”
They’re not proud of their past but they’re also frightened about the future. Can you relate? Maybe you’re afraid of turning out like your ancestors did or as you review the past year, you know you didn’t make the progress you wanted to. Maybe you’ve just been wandering in the wilderness, experiencing more failure than faithfulness. Loved ones; it’s time to move forward! The early chapters of Joshua are packed with practical life lessons that can literally revolutionize your relationship with God because it’s a book of new beginnings. You and I are going to face new situations and fresh problems this year but I’m confident that if we lock into these lessons, 2007 can be markedly different. As many of you know, I normally try to focus on just three or four key points in a sermon but I wasn’t able to do that this week. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get this down to three points and a poem (don’t tell my preaching professor at Moody). This section of Scripture is so rich and so practical that I came up with twelve, one for every month of the year. I recognize that you won’t be able to remember them all, but I trust that several principles will resonate with you and that you’ll be motivated to take some significant steps forward this year.