Summary: To be a true follower of Christ, we must set ourselves apart, have faith to take the first step toward following and then obeidence to make that step
August 21, 2005
Intro: Life is filled with definable moments. Moments when we must make harsh choices, brave overwhelming obstacles, and conquer new horizons. They are the major “crossings” of life.
Today we are going to look at spiritual crossing. We have for the last two weeks been looking at our core values and what we are all about as a church. Today, we want to look at the next step processes of where we go from here.
To do so, we are going to look at one of the most significant event in the life of the nation of Israel, crossing into the Promised Land. Joshua is the new leader of Israel. Moses has died and now it is up to Joshua to lead the people into the land God has given to them.
“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.’” Joshua 3:1-4 (NIV)
There are a few things you must realize before we continue on with this passage.
It has taken the nation of Israel forty years to get to this point.
Because of their sin and grumbling, God had caused them to wander in the desert until all of the generation that had left Egypt had died off. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to enter the land God had given to them.
The principle to understand is that God allows us to experience the journey of life in order to prepare us for what lies ahead.
God took Israel on an incredible journey to show them that He alone was God and He alone would provide for their needs.
How did he do it? He gave them manna and quail to eat. He caused their sandals to last for forty years. He gave them victory over their enemies even though they were nomads.
So, now it is time for them to cross over. God gave them very specific things to do in this process.
I. Consecrate Yourselves
“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’" Joshua 3:5 (NIV)
The term consecrate literally means “separated to” or “belonging to God.”
It was vitally important that those who were preparing to enter the Promised Land that God had for them lay behind anything that would interfere in their being distinctly Gods’.
God is holy. Anything that is to be set apart for Him or to his honor must be holy.
"Say this to the entire community of Israel: You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2 (New Living Translation)
The idea of holiness is simply to be spiritually pure.
Before the people could enter the Promised Land, they had to make sure they were spiritually pure.
What does this mean for us?
God calls us as His followers today to be spiritually pure. He calls us to a life free from the entrapments of the world and the sinful lifestyle of those around us.
“God knows who belongs to him, spurn evil, all you who name god as God.” 2 Timothy 2:19 (The Message)
The first step in us being the people of God that he has called us to be is to leave behind the sin of the world and strive for purity and holiness.
To be the people that God desires and the church God uses, we must make sure we are pursuing God more than we are pursuing sin.
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV)
Unfortunately what most people want is a nice little God to pull out in a crisis, but not a real and honest God to pour out your life on. We try to hide out hearts and hope that god will just let us get by.
Mike Yaconelli, in one of his last books before he died wrote this about our nice little view of God:
“The nice, nonthreatening God needs to be replaced by the God whose very presence smashes our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within.”
Mike Yaconelli, Dangerous Wonder